The Glenbow Museum has slashed its operating deficit by $1.2 million and is looking for new ways to move forward after a tough couple of years.

Officials with the museum made the announcement Wednesday night at the Glenbow's annual general meeting. The museum was forced to lay off staff last year because of its deficit.

"I think we have a very good financial grasp of where we are and where we need to go," said Donna Livingstone, president and CEO of the museum.

"I think this has just been one of those wonderful opportunities where you can actually look at a 46-year-old institution and say, 'OK, what can we do different now? How can we respond to the new generation for the next 46 years?'"

Last year marked the fourth year in a row the museum had run a deficit of more than $1 million.

Those numbers came despite increased attendance and fundraising, and the museum had to borrow money from its endowment fund and reduce operating hours.

At the time, Glenbow management blamed the tough times on the bad economy and a lack of government funding.

Focus to bring in younger crowds

After being appointed interim CEO in November 2012, Livingstone told the Calgary Eyeopener that the museum would need to put a focus on the things it can do best in order to protect its future.

"People come to Glenbow for a sense of place in the West," she said. 

"So I think rather than looking at history as a dry, old-fashioned kind of way of looking at things, I think we'll think about Western life — the decisions people made 100 years ago are still the kinds of decisions people make today, so how can we bring those stories forward?"

In the next few years, the museum will be focusing on finding new strategies to get younger crowds in, said Livingstone.

It's all part of an effort to share the collection with more people, she said.