Calgary’s Glenbow Museum closes doors for 3 years, starts engagement with Indigenous community

The lure of free tickets and news that the doors will be shut for the next three years drew around 5,000 people to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary on the weekend.

Sunday marked the last day the downtown museum will be open until mid-2024.

“I’m just so excited to be here,” said Linda Gerow, who was at the museum on Sunday.

“To have the opportunity — especially for low-income people to be able to do something fun that we might not be able to afford otherwise, so it was a great opportunity.”

Patrons were offered free admission for the past two weekends. All the free tickets were booked.

Read more: Glenbow Museum closing for renovations

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The $120-million renovation will revamp the interior and exterior of the museum, officials said. It will include a new entrance on the corner of 1 Street and Stephen Avenue, a new retail space and a fifth-floor patio. The renovations are also expected to lead to increased accessibility.

“Calgarians are going to see a complete transformation of this building. The outside of the building is going to change dramatically,” said Melanie Kjorlien, Glenbow Museum chief operating officer and VP of engagement.

The museum team is reaching out to the Indigenous community to incorporate design ideas and guidance from an Indigenous perspective.

According to a Glenbow Museum news release, the engagement process “reflects Glenbow’s understanding of the importance of relationships in the care of cultural belongings and is based on the foundation of promoting reconciliation and building of knowledge and understanding of Indigenous perspectives.”

The news release said incorporating reconciliation into museum practices “will guide meaningful engagement with Indigenous Peoples with positive impacts for the museum, their Indigenous stakeholders and the partnership between the two.”

Read more: Calgary’s Glenbow museum gets provincial funding boost of up to $40M for revitalization

“It’s really nice to see that they are reaching out to ensure that there will be more Indigenous consultation and more art, hopefully, to show off the history there because it’s a big part of who we are,” said Michael Spackman, who was at the museum on Sunday.

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Gerow said that more Indigenous consultation is essential.

“I just saw the picture (the Forcible Transfer of Children by Kent Monkman) on the children being ripped away from their parents during that time, and it gave me goosebumps. It’s just a horrible thing. I think their voice needs to be heard a lot louder,” Gerow said.

The museum is expected to reopen in mid-2024, but there will be exhibits and programs at a temporary pop-up location, which will open in February 2022.

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