Five Excuses to Visit the Glenbow Museum this Fall

I say this every time I visit the Glenbow Museum: “I’m just popping in to see some of the latest exhibits.  I shouldn’t be more than an hour”.  And, without fail, I leave more than two hours later overwhelmed by the variety of themes, new exhibits and switched out artworks that make the rooms and passageways look subtly different every time.

I have to confess that I am not big on museums and history, but I always underestimate what the Glenbow has to offer.  Just because you’ve visited once, don’t write it off as having been-there-and-done-that.  This really is a Calgary – and, indeed, Canadian – treasure.  It rivals any national museum elsewhere in the world.  We can confidently and proudly showcase her to international visitors.  However, as locals we shouldn’t be too quick to sideline the museum as a tourist attraction only.

Here are five excuses to revisit the Glenbow, if you haven’t been here in a while. Discover more at our previous post here.

Explore the Feature Exhibitions

These quarterly exhibitions commonly run for three months at a time and feature very diverse artists and artworks.  Currently, the Museum is presenting exhibits by

Some of the themed exhibits include

Albertine Crow Shoe from the local Blackfoot First Nation is the current Artist in Residence.

Climbing into the elevator in the Museum’s lobby you’re easily able to navigate to the floor of your choice by the helpful exhibition descriptions on the interactive touch pad

I confess that when it comes to art I am more of a realist and traditionalist.  I really enjoyed some of the photographic and mixed-media works.  While I recognized the intricacies and details in some of the other abstract items, I really battled to appreciate their artistic value. But then I guess the adage that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” may apply here.

Sybil Andrews’ linocut artwork journey and renditions are exceptional.   Having dabbled in some linocut work myself as a middle school pupil I have a superficial appreciation for the skill required to create one of these pieces of work.  Catching a glimpse into her life and seeing her diverse art skills that included oil painting, intricate pencil drawings and even music showcases what a gifted individual she was.

The Sybil Andrews: Art & Life Exhibit
A drypoint etching on paper of King Henry VII Chapel at Westminster Abbey demonstrates Andrews’ intricate sketching ability

The over-generously spaced ExtraOrdinary Objects exhibit was somewhat bizarre, as were the non-narrative multimedia films by Nicole Kelly Westman.  The same might be said for the two-tone oversized art pieces by Gerald Ferguson that occupy quite a bit of the Museum’s wall space.  Perhaps my artistic palate requires more refining. 

Some elements in the ExtraOrdinary Objects Exhibit
I just don’t understand the artistic element in the seven pieces of porcelained My Panties exhibit by Yvonne Mullock

The last time I was at the Museum one of the featured displays was the extraordinary Black Gold Tapestry by Sandra Sawatzky.  The theme of the exhibit struck a chord with the local public in light of the tanking oil and gas sector affecting Alberta.  The tapestry – all 67 metres of it – was quite spectacular.

Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta

This delightful and cleverly-constructed exhibit was both enlightening and sometimes embarrassing to tour through.  How could women have been treated as non-entities?  What caused our Province to appear on the world stage as coveted global real estate in the 20th Century?  What’s there to love or hate about Ranching in Alberta?  What was the big deal about the railways?  How did the war affect us?  And why was fur trading such a Canadian stronghold?  Have these and other controversial stories and speculations addressed as you wander through this whimsical construct of historical archives.

“Women are Persons!”
www.iamcalgary.ca I Am Calgary Olympic Plaza Famous Five
The life-sized rendition of the Famous Five Statues at nearby Olympic Plaza, memorializing the “Women are persons!” revolution in Alberta

Explore the Richness of Aboriginal Art and Culture

Regain an appreciation of the fabric of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities through the exhibits of carvings, clothing, lifestyle and customs displayed in the New Sun Gallery.

Glenbow Shop

If exploring the three floors of diverse artefacts, artworks and exhibits isn’t enough, then a stroll through the gift shop as you leave the museum will likely cause most people’s credit cards to vibrate in their pockets.  There are so many cool items in this boutique-like shop.  Books.  Toys.  Canadian memorabilia.  Jewelry.  Art.  Seasonal trinkets.  You needn’t even visit the museum to enjoy the gift shop.  Something that I find quite surprising is that their prices are not hyper-inflated like many similar stores.  So, if you or a visitor to Calgary is looking to buy decent quality souvenirs and art, you would do well to put the Glenbow Gift Shop on your list of destinations.  Note that store hours are different to the museum.

Glenbow Museum and Shop (Stephen Ave entrance)

Free Entry

Yip!  You heard right.  The doors to the museum are open for all to enter free-of-charge on the first Thursday night of every month between 5pm and closing time at 9pm.  Use these opportunities to have a date night and hit up the new exhibits if you think you’ve seen enough of the permanent ones.  I suspect you’ll be surprised by what you find and will want to come back for more!

What has been your favourite exhibit or memory of the Glenbow Museum? Let us know by leaving a note in the comments section below.

Leave a Reply