Concept design for Glenbow lobby

A Museum Reimagined

A visit to a great museum is energizing — even electrifying. It can give you something to talk about for days, or something to inspire you for a lifetime.

A great museum also builds community. It creates shared experiences and preserves collective memory. It stimulates economic vibrancy. Great museums are landmarks and hubs of activity — they invite people in to participate and discover new things.

This is our vision for Glenbow. We are ready to transform our building and use the physical renovation as a chance to reinvent and reimagine what happens inside and around that building. 

Help us reimagine the museum. it’s going to be amazing.

To learn more and support Glenbow’s Reimagined Campaign, please contact:

Kim Kadatz, VP Advancement
kkadatz@glenbow.org 

 

 

When complete, the new Glenbow will serve as a national beacon for how cultural institutions can be designed with ingenuity, beauty and purpose.

Irfhan Rawji, Chair of Glenbow’s Board of Governors.

A revitalized destination for everyone to enjoy

Glenbow’s redesigned building will feature:

  • An accessible open-air lobby and gathering spaces for people to congregate and connect
  • A restaurant and enhanced retail shop offering a one-of-a-kind cultural entertainment experience to both Glenbow guests and the public
  • Innovative gallery spaces designed to accommodate large-scale exhibitions and installations
  • Flexible education spaces that facilitate immersive learning experiences and hands-on access to the collection
  • New technology providing more ways to engage and interact with exhibitions and items in the Glenbow collection
  • A financially and environmentally sustainable design guided by industry best practices and architectural standards
Concept design for Glenbow exterior street front

Building for increased accessibility and engagement with our community

Glenbow is a museum that believes art is for everyone. A new building provides an opportunity to eliminate barriers to accessibility – reimagining museum hours, admission costs, technology barriers and more – to ensure that the Glenbow experience is accessible to and welcoming for people of all abilities, ages, backgrounds and life experiences.

1. A reimagined Glenbow brings art to the city and the city to art. Expressive form and visible programming transform the existing, inward-looking building into a revitalized cultural landmark and a critical wayfinding link, connecting downtown Calgary’s most exciting cultural spaces, from Contemporary Calgary in the west to Arts Commons, the New Central Library and the National Music Centre to the east. 2. Visitors are greeted by a new double height entrance on the corner of 1st Street SE & Stephen Avenue, opening the museum to Olympic Plaza, and framing guests’ arrival into Calgary’s cultural heart. 3. A revitalized retail space and new at-grade café are just two of the key amenities within the museum’s open public space accessible from Stephen Avenue. 4. Every corner of the building is activated. An active interior event space located at 1st Street SE and 9th Avenue animates the intersection and can easily accommodate event specific transformations of 9th Avenue, such as parades or street festivals. 5. A re-imagined loading zone dramatically improves the at-grade frontage along 1st Street SE. 6. The first two floors offer transparency into and out of the building. Special galleries push up against the facade, connecting educational, innovative and creative programming with the public, ensuring there is always something to discover as you walk by the new Glenbow.

Why now?

  • Glenbow’s renovation will mitigate the substantial risks Glenbow is facing due to aging building infrastructure. This project will protect the collection that Glenbow holds in trust for the the people of Alberta. It will increase the lifespan, accessibility and energy efficiency of the building, as well as improving physical accessibility and usability for the public. 
  • Glenbow’s revitalization project will create up to 650 construction-related jobs, and will create long-term opportunities to create future cultural sector jobs. Calgary-based project partners were selected for all aspects of the renovation project, including architectural design, construction and project management with a deliberate “shop-local” mandate.
  • A revitalized Glenbow will complement and connect downtown Calgary’s most exciting cultural spaces, from Contemporary Calgary in the west to Arts Commons, the New Central Library and the National Music Centre to the east. This dynamic cultural district will ensure downtown Calgary remains a healthy, vibrant destination for everyone. 
  • Glenbow’s renovation and redesign will be responsive to post-COVID needs for public space, including airflow, accessibility, interactivity of exhibitions and capacity management.
  • The renovation project will contribute to Calgary’s post-COVID economic recovery by supporting Calgary’s cultural sector and increasing potential for arts-related jobs. The project will support the city’s rebounding tourism industry, as well as offering spaces and programs that support education, innovation and social projects in the community. 
  • The renovation will transform Glenbow from an introverted, opaque building closed off from public view into a cultural landmark with a welcoming presence and amenities that will allow people to interact with art in new ways. It will offer unparalleled public access to Glenbow’s collections and exhibitions, increasing both physically and financially accessible opportunities for Calgarians to engage with Glenbow.

What’s the plan?

Phase One: November 2020 – October 2021

  • The museum will remain open and exhibitions will continue in Glenbow’s second floor galleries
  • Glenbow’s shop closes to the public
  • Glenbow’s third and fourth floor exhibition galleries close to the public
  • The museum collection will be consolidated and secured so it can be safe and accessible during renovations (currently collections storage is spread over several of the upper floors of the building)
  • Interior renovations (including abatement of hazardous materials) will begin on the top three floors (6 through 8) of the building
  • High density storage upgrades will be installed to house the collection
  • Community outreach and discussions to inform building facilities and future programming

Phase Two: 

  • Glenbow building closes to the public
  • Glenbow exhibitions continue in a temporary “pop-up” space, along with digital outreach and education programs
  • Continuing community outreach and discussions to inform building facilities and future programming
  • Interior renovations continue
  • The exterior building envelope is removed
  • Mechanical and electrical systems are decommissioned

Phase Three: 

  • Complete building revitalization
  • Mechanical and electrical systems are upgraded
  • Public realm and exterior improvements

Project Complete: Glenbow reopens our revitalized building

Our journey so far

Our path to revitalizing Glenbow and building a reinvigorated cultural destination has been ongoing since 2013. We are now moving forward with our campaign as we begin this $115 million project. 

2013

  • Glenbow’s board and staff place increased focus on financial stability and sustainability in order to move beyond the status quo and start to envision bigger, bolder goals for Glenbow.
  • Glenbow begins offering free admission to thousands of people through sponsored initiatives such as Free First Thursday Nights and Community Day. Through these and other special access programs, over 100,000 people have been able to visit Glenbow for free, including 33,000 last year alone.
  • We continue building on Glenbow’s 30-year history of community collaboration and engaging with Indigenous stakeholders adding new public programs for Indigenous education opportunities, led by Indigenous educators.

2015

  • Glenbow engages Calgary-based design firm Dialog to produce architectural concept drawings, working with an international museum consulting firm to inspire our plans for Glenbow’s future.

2017

  • We begin conducting extensive stakeholder engagements and audience research to dig into big questions about how Glenbow serves our community and how to grow our impact.

2018

  • We use the feedback and data from these engagements to inform a strategic planning process that identified clear ways Glenbow needed to evolve to better serve our community.
  • After a building assessment, it becomes clear that our situation is urgent. The estimate to fully assess and mitigate all issues and replace aging internal systems starts at $17 million. Glenbow holds a nationally significant collection of art and cultural material that is owned by the people of Alberta, and our ability to care for it and ensure that our community has access to it is at risk.

2019

  • We undertake renovations of Glenbow’s current gallery spaces to act on our mandate and make Glenbow’s collection more accessible. We also begin increasing exhibition cycles and presenting more content with fresh and diverse perspectives.
  • With ambitious, nationally significant exhibitions of art, fashion and culture, we achieve an increase in general attendance by more than 42 per cent since 2013.

2020

  • The provincial government pledges $40 million towards revitalizing Glenbow’s aging infrastructure and modernizing the building. This funding must be matched to be unlocked.
  • After a series of Requests for Proposals (RFPs), Glenbow’s prime consultant, construction manager, engineering lead and development manager are selected and Glenbow is now fully ‘shovel ready’ for a complete interior and exterior renovation.
  • Calgary City Council approves allocation of $14M for Glenbow’s renovation from Municipal Stimulus Program Funding.

Let’s build a building that gives you a thrill when you recommend people visit it. That makes you proud to have contributed to it. A building that gives people a sense of belonging and ownership. A building that responds to the needs of our city and creates new possibilities for the future.

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