Building community through an accessible museum


Museums of the future must be community centered. That’s why Glenbow Reimagined is about so much more than our building—it’s a complete rethinking of how the museum shows up and is part of our community. Our good neighbour strategy emphasizes community partnerships to bolster civic, social, as well as health and wellness benefits of museum experiences.

We also believe museums aren’t just for looking at things. They help us discover who we are, learn about others and provide a window into the experiences of others. Our vision for Glenbow’s future as a vital part of community is focused on that.

A Reimagined Museum Experience

Glenbow’s vision for a reimagined museum experience guides our purpose as an art museum. It considers our past and envisions our future impact, while anchoring development of our museum’s exhibition and gallery spaces, as well as our programs.

Through our renewed vision, Glenbow will:

  • Recognize our uniqueness as an art museum and take the opportunity to forge our own meaning and interpretation of art in relationship to the diverse collections for which we care.
  • Provide meaningful encounters with art, culture and history that enrich lives, leaving our visitors inspired, challenged and informed.
  • Create a place of belonging where visitors feel accepted and invited to participate, contribute and dissent, providing opportunities for them to flourish through exploration of our museum.
  • Acknowledge our past and lead for the future, recognizing our historical context and complexities and committing to best practices that address colonialism in our work.
  • Be a beacon for art and culture of this place through our collections and programming, providing space and opportunity for artists of this region.
  • Celebrate diverse community voices through our expansive and diverse collections, encouraging connection, reflection, conversation and shared understanding to advance inclusion.
  • Foster dynamic approaches for dynamic spaces through the development of exhibition and common spaces of various sizes and scales, offering visitors a myriad of experiences. 

Critical to our vision is our commitment to decolonization and reconciliation through collaboration with Indigenous communities in Treaty 7 and beyond. Building on our track record of Indigenous partnerships, we are working to ensure Indigenous leadership shapes exhibitions, education, programming and stewardship of Indigenous belongings. When Glenbow reopens, the building will also feature new community spaces to support increased Indigenous access to belongings in our care.

Engaging with Indigenous Communities

How have Indigenous communities been involved in renovation planning?

In 2021, Glenbow hired Many Chief Consulting to develop a strategy that would connect the museum with Indigenous communities, informing our short and long-term planning through the meaningful incorporation of Indigenous knowledge and perspectives in the museum’s design, programming and operations. This strategy focused on three key areas that supported respectful and meaningful communications with Indigenous communities:

  1. Building knowledge
  2. Building relationships
  3. Building the path forward

Through virtual engagement sessions with members of Treaty 7 and other Indigenous communities, recommendations were made on design, care for Indigenous belongings, relationship-building and future exhibitions and programming. 

How is the new Blackfoot Gallery being developed?

Beginning in 2022, Glenbow embarked on a reimagining of the Blackfoot Gallery led by Niitsitapi Elders and Knowledge Keepers from Siksika Nation, Piikani Nation, Kainai Nation, as well as the Blackfeet Nation in present-day Montana. Through ongoing collaboration, discussion, ceremony, visits to the land and the Glenbow collections, the new Blackfoot Gallery will feature ways of knowing, belongings and art.

What is the Indigenous Futures Program?

This is one of many new, innovative programs at Glenbow. The Indigenous Futures Program was created to give early to mid-career contemporary Indigenous artists an opportunity to work in Glenbow’s collections to research and develop new works that support Indigenous cultural revitalization efforts. It opens access for artists to reconnect with traditional forms of making by learning from historical objects in Glenbow’s collection, connecting with Elders and Knowledge Keepers and engaging in a range of initiatives for Indigenous knowledge-sharing. 

Designed with Indigenous community members, the program aims to advance the careers of Indigenous artists in ways that are meaningful to them.

Thank you to Scotiabank and KPMG for their generous support of this program.

If you have questions about Glenbow’s Indigenous engagement strategy, please contact us at

Expanding Programs

Every year, thousands of students experience Glenbow learning opportunities. Through Glenbow Reimagined, we’re building a new education centre to increase our school capacity by more than 30% to 80,000 students annually.

As we reimagine the museum, Glenbow is committed to:

  • Expanding our successful museum school model, providing new learning opportunities for people of all ages.
  • Expanding and creating museum-based mental health and wellness programming.
  • Developing partnerships with other leading arts, culture and community-focused organizations to pool ideas and passions for the community—collaborating to achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Supporting Art and Artists

Glenbow’s Art collection is vast and diverse. With over 33,000 works of art, we have the largest public art collection in Western Canada. Two thirds of Glenbow’s collection represent artists from Calgary, Alberta and the rest of Canada—we remain committed to supporting the work of artists of this place through commissions and exhibitions.

Thanks to a donation from the Shaw Family Foundation, a $10 million endowment will create the JR Shaw Institute for Art in Canada. The Institute will feature annual exhibitions, a diverse and exciting mix of programs, an artist in residence program, a research fellowship, and opportunities for further study through an internship program. Through the Institute, we will expand our appreciation and understanding of art in all its forms from across Canada.

In addition, Glenbow’s revitalized vision will invite artists and individuals from the diverse communities represented in our collections to present their own stories, deepening conversations and shared understanding that will help build an inclusive society.  

Community Engagement & the Future of Glenbow

Understanding your ideas and aspirations for Glenbow is critical to the museum’s future success. Over the past few years, we’ve been asking the community how Glenbow can be more relevant, accessible and meaningful. This feedback helped inform our initial ideas and aspirations for the renovation.

In 2021, we went to community for input on the initial design plans for Glenbow Reimagined. This included one-on-one conversations with community leaders and stakeholders, then grew to a broad reaching online survey of more than 1,200 Calgarians. Through this research, we gained a better understanding of public expectations and which aspects of Glenbow’s redesign and operations will be most beneficial for our public. From there, we hosted two virtual open-house sessions to share information on the plans.

As we continue renovating and planning, we will continue to update the community on our progress and ask for further feedback on programming, amenities and spaces that are crucial to an enhanced visitor experience. Stay tuned!

Glenbow aims to build relationships with diverse social and cultural groups from across community to help inform future programming, education and outreach, and identify opportunities for collaboration.

If you have any questions about Glenbow’s community engagement work, please contact us at

Empowering the Next Generation of Artists


Scotiabank recognizes the need for programs that create opportunities and help remove systemic barriers for Indigenous people in our community—supporting the Indigenous Futures Program was a natural fit.

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