Glenbow Museum to showcase art in its renewed vision

Calgary's Glenbow Museum has a new vision for its future — a tighter focus on its vast art collection plus more frequent exhibits and events.

Calgary institution will become a 'new kind of art museum,' CEO promises

Glenbow Museum CEO Donna Livingstone announces the institution's new art-focussed direction in Calgary on Thursday. (CBC)

Calgary's Glenbow Museum has a new vision for its future — a tighter focus on its vast art collection plus more frequent exhibits and events.

The changes were announced Thursday by CEO Donna Livingstone, who said they come after a year of soul searching and consulting with Calgarians about what they want the Glenbow to be.

“There's a lot of new Calgarians, they've changed a lot since we moved into this building 45 years ago,” she said.

“They're young, they're well-travelled, they're diverse, they're looking for meaningful experiences and they're also expecting that kind of service in their own city that they've seen in other cities. So we want to be that go-to place.”

Showing off the newly freshened-up lobby, Livingstone said the institution will become a “new kind of art museum” that makes the most of the 33,000 pieces in its collection, which includes historical, modernist and contemporary works by key artists from the region and the country.

“We have the largest art collection west of Toronto,” she said.

The Glenbow will also change up its exhibits more often — bringing in more travelling shows — and become more contemporary.

Livingstone said history is still important so the museum will display more of the million items in the collections.

“How do you make sense of a collection that ranges from samurai armour to Buddhist sculptures to your grandmother’s wedding dress to, yes, Queen Victoria's underpants,” she said.

While the museum has struggled financially for many years, it’s starting to turn the corner, Livingstone said.

Glenbow officials have also decided not to look for a new location or construct a new building, instead choosing to freshen up the existing space.

“The building has been well-maintained and is located in the heart of Calgary’s cultural district,” the museum said in release.