Thinking Big – A Transformative Collaboration


In collaboration with the University of Calgary, we are excited to announce the creation of the Glenbow Western Research Centre, which will expand the impact of an incredible resource: Glenbow’s beloved Library and Archives.

At Glenbow we are always seeking new and innovative ways to increase the accessibility and relevance of our incredible collections. The creation of this new research centre is also a catalyst that will help us take an exciting step towards focusing on Glenbow’s role as Calgary’s public art museum.

The majority of Glenbow’s Library and Archives collection (which includes approximately 22 million pages of textual records, two million photographs, 125,000 books, 15,000 maps, 600 hours of audio recordings, as well as 4,000 videos and films) will be relocated to the University of Calgary as part of a long term loan to form the Glenbow Western Research Centre, dedicated to the history and culture of Alberta.

For more than 50 years, Glenbow has made the Library and Archives collection accessible to researchers from around the world, and, through the efforts of our staff, have amassed one of the most important archival collections in Canada. This new location opens up exciting new possibilities for how this material can be actively used by Albertans and Calgarians far into the future.

The books, documents and photographs in Glenbow’s Library and Archives collection align closely with research strengths at the University of Calgary, including Arctic studies, veterinary medicine, western history, business, immigration, and military history. By integrating these incredible resources at one state-of-the-art location, researchers, students and the public will have increased access and better connections to this material.

The new Glenbow Western Research Centre is expected to open to the public in September 2019. This purpose-built facility will be located in the heart of the University of Calgary campus, at the Taylor Family Digital Library. The location is easily accessible by public transit and will be open and free to access for the general public, students and academic researchers. The project will include increased digital access to Glenbow’s library and archives material, as well as more opportunities for in-person research in a beautiful new facility.

Glenbow holds hundreds of thousands of objects and items in its extensive art, cultural history, military history and Indigenous collections at our downtown museum location. Relocating library and archival material (published books as well as unpublished documents and photographs) to the Glenbow Western Research Centre will free up valuable storage and potential exhibition space as Glenbow continues to build its collection to reflect a focus on art and artists. Glenbow will continue to hold library and archival material related to art history, artist’s files, art books and other material that enhances Glenbow’s unique role as a significant research centre for western Canadian art.


What do you mean when you say  “Archives”?

The Glenbow archive collection, Canada’s largest non-governmental archival repository, has extensive holdings of unpublished documents and photographs related to the history of Western Canada.

It is a major research centre for historians, writers, students, genealogists, filmmakers, and the media. It houses a wide-ranging collection of unpublished archival records (such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, scrapbooks, speeches, membership lists, films, and sound recordings) for over 3,000 individuals, families, clubs, businesses, schools, and organizations in Calgary, southern Alberta and Western Canada. The records, which take up five kilometres of shelf space, date from the 1860s to the 1990s, and document not only the people who created them, but also the broader social, political, and economic history of this region. Areas of specialty include First Nations and Indigenous history (especially Blackfoot), Mounted Police, pioneer life, ranching and agriculture, the petroleum industry, politics (especially the farmers’ movement), labour and unions, women, the arts (especially theatre), and businesses.

How is this project being funded?

The University of Calgary will be undertaking the physical move and integration of the collection and the funding of the Glenbow Western Research Centre through the generous and visionary support of the Siebens family, local philanthropists who are supporting this unique collaboration.

How is Glenbow’s Library and Archives used now?

Glenbow’s Library and Archives have been the source for countless research projects, books, films, art initiatives and more. Audience research tells us that 14% of our visitors come to Glenbow because of the Library and Archives. By expanding the access opportunities and making new connections with the research community at the University of Calgary, we anticipate even more people will be able to access these incredible resources.

More and more of our research enquiries are handled digitally. Relocating the Library and Archives physical location to the University’s state-of-the-art facility will improve access both physically and digitally – researchers, students and the public will benefit from more open hours, more resources and the future digitization of even more of the collection, making the material available to people all over the world.

How will this project benefit Glenbow?

Relocating the Library and Archives material to the Glenbow Western Research Centre at the University of Calgary will free up a significant amount of physical space in our downtown museum building, which has been crowded and lacking in storage space. This will allow us to focus on enhancing and increasing our art-related collection and research facilities. This project moves Glenbow forward as we fulfill our strategic vision as Calgary’s public visual arts museum and as we launch a new phase of our planned building revitalization.

What about Eric Harvie’s Legacy?

With this bold partnership we are preserving and continuing the legacy of Glenbow’s founder, Eric Harvie and his family. Glenbow’s Library and Archive collection will remain intact together as a long term loan, physically located and cared for in the University of Calgary’s library facilities and will be identified under the auspices of the Glenbow Western Research Centre.

Through this project, we are prioritizing public access to our collection and innovating to serve our visitors and our community. We will continue to use our Library and Archives collection to preserve and tell stories about western Canada.

We will continue to hold library and archives material related to local community art and cultural organizations, art history, artist’s files, art books, photography and other material that enhances Glenbow’s unique role as a significant research centre for western Canadian art.

Glenbow will also continue to collect material that enhances our existing collection and focus on art and culture in western Canada.

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