Museums are essential for vibrant and thriving communities.
Great museums are living, breathing spaces. They draw people back and create welcoming atmospheres that inspire new ways of thinking about art, culture and one another. Today, museums are expanding their role in community.
Through Glenbow Reimagined, we are transforming our physical spaces and programs to reflect the needs of our community. Our shared future will be brighter when we make arts and culture experiences accessible, community-focused and sustainable. We will continuously strive to deliver experiences that inspire us to rethink our world, connect with others and better ourselves. Access to arts and culture helps us grow and evolve for the future—at Glenbow, we start by ensuring access to our museum is a right for all.
Key Building Renovation Changes
- A new museum entrance on Stephen Avenue. This street-level entrance will offer views into the building from a revitalized Stephen Avenue.
- For the first time, all eight floors of the museum will be accessible to visitors, creating unique experiences across the entire museum.
- A 13,000-square-foot rooftop terrace with multiple dedicated spaces and gorgeous views of the heart of downtown Calgary.
- A new theatre, shop and restaurant will create different experiences throughout the building, encouraging visitors to return more often.
Glenbow at the JR Shaw Centre for Arts & Culture
Emerging post-renovation as the JR Shaw Centre for Arts & Culture, our reimagined building will be an inspiring home for Glenbow’s collections, exhibitions, programs and events. This renovation will achieve a vibrant urban space that engages with the city and is a highly visible and active destination—a hub of creativity, innovation and community.
Kent is based in Dish with One Spoon Territory (Toronto, Canada) and his work has been seen at museums and galleries around the world. Known for his provocative interventions into Western European and American art history, Kent explores themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience–the complexities of historic and contemporary Indigenous experiences–across painting, film/video, performance and installation.
Gail is a native Montrealer but has lived in Calgary since 1978. Her career in fashion and culture spanned 30 years, including 10 years as General Manager of Holt Renfrew, Calgary. Gail has a deep commitment to community involvement, supporting and serving on boards of non-profits across Canada with a particular focus on medicine, child health and well being, and the arts.
Patricia Phillips is CEO and Chair of The PBA Group of Companies, a diversified real estate company headquartered in Calgary. In addition to chairing PBA and The Phillips Foundation (which she co-founded), Patricia currently sits on several private and non-profit boards, including Jostle, headversity (which she chairs), WITHORG (Women In Tourism And Hospitality), The Glenbow Museum, and Fortress Mountain.
In addition to his role as Founder and CEO at Mobsquad, Irfhan is a Managing Partner with Relay Ventures, and an Adjunct Professor with the Sauder School of Business at UBC. With over two decades of non-profit volunteer leadership, Irfhan currently serves on three national boards and acts as an advisor to committees and institutes across Canada.
Frequently Asked Questions
Renovating our home provides the opportunity to revisit both the design and infrastructure of the museum and how we serve our community. As our building neared its 50th birthday, its systems and exterior surpassed their lifecycles, creating new risks for our visitors and collections. These are now being replaced, hazardous materials removed, and our environmental systems are being upgraded.
The building’s original design was also not open to the city around it—lacking a front door, natural light or intuitive wayfinding in the building. This renovation changes all of that, allowing our home to meet visitor expectations for accessibility, positive experience and a sense of belonging.
2020: Project kickoff
- February: The Government of Alberta announces $40 million to support Glenbow Reimagined – a catalyst that kicked off our fundraising and accelerated planning for the renovation.
- May: We began building our team and hired local firms to provide key support for the renovation project: M3 as the development manager, DIALOG as prime design consultant and EllisDon as construction manager.
- Fall: The City of Calgary provides $14 million from the Municipal Stimulus Program to support the first phase of renovation, with a focus on rehousing Glenbow’s collections in new, upgraded storage systems.
2021: Renovation begins
- August: Glenbow hosts its final visitors before renovation begins.
- Fall: Renovation on upper floors begins, focused on mechanical and electrical systems and abatement of hazardous materials.
- Fall: Upgrading and moving museum collection storage begins. Over 90,000 items are moved over the course of 18 months into new, high density and upgraded storage systems.
- November: The City commits $11 million from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative to support additional phases of the project.
2022: Renovation continues
- February: Shaw Family Foundation donates $35 million to create the JR Shaw Free Admission Endowment and the JR Shaw Institute for Art in Canada. Glenbow confirms it will become the first major museum in Canada to offer free general admission to everyone, forever. In honour of the largest donation to Glenbow since our founding, we rename our building the JR Shaw Centre for Arts & Culture.
- April: The Government of Canada confirms $40 million toward the renovation through the Investing in Canadian Infrastructure Program.
- All remaining renovation work begins, including removal and replacement of the concrete exterior building envelope and major changes to the museum’s interior spaces.
2023: Renovation continues
- February: Curatorial vision for Glenbow Reimagined is developed, as well as first concepts for our exhibition program and visitor experience for all eight floors of the museum.
- April: The first panel of Glenbow’s new exterior is installed on the west side of the building.
- June: The City of Calgary commits an additional $12 million from the Cultural Municipal Sustainability Initiative to support the project.
2024: Renovation completed, and interior work begins
- Fall/Winter: Renovation of both interior and exterior spaces will be completed, allowing the Glenbow team to return to the building and begin developing the new exhibition and gallery spaces. Work can only begin after the building is considered dust-free for a period of six months.
2025: Interior work continues
- Glenbow team continues to develop new exhibition and gallery spaces.
2026: Museum re-opens
- Exhibition and gallery spaces will be ready to open to the public. We can’t wait to welcome you back!
Remarkably, the collections have stayed in the museum throughout the renovation. We considered the feasibility and risks associated with moving every object offsite via a single freight elevator and onto trucks for transport to an alternative space. Given those factors, we decided to retain the collections within the building and protect them within our storage spaces. The storage areas on floors and six and seven were two of the first spaces to be renovated. Our team works closely with EllisDon to ensure the spaces remain environmentally controlled to a museum standard.
Working with partners, we planned new collection storage systems and began moving our collections within the museum in 2021. Throughout the moving process, every precaution has been taken to carefully manage and protect each item as it is moved within the museum.
By spring 2023, over 100,000 collection items were rehoused in new high-density systems on floors six and seven, ensuring their protection and access for the next 50 years.
In addition to our incredible Glenbow team, we are supported by many high-quality service providers who are working with us to bring Glenbow Reimagined to life. Our prime consultants include: