Federal government chips in $40M for Glenbow renovation

·2 min read
A rendering of the reimagined Glenbow Museum. (Submitted by the Glenbow Museum - image credit)
A rendering of the reimagined Glenbow Museum. (Submitted by the Glenbow Museum - image credit)

The federal minister of infrastructure confirmed on Thursday that the Trudeau government will contribute $40 million for the renovation of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary.

Work on the project is already underway and the Glenbow's main building closed last year. It will reopen in 2024.

Minister Dominic LeBlanc said the money will help ensure the renovated Glenbow remains one of the premier cultural institutions in Alberta and that it will be greener.

"Funding for this project will help replace outdated systems with energy efficient ones, renovate all eight floors to create more spaces — more spaces for galleries and exhibitions," said LeBlanc.

"It's a signature project."

Mike Symington/CBC
Mike Symington/CBC

LeBlanc said Ottawa is matching the provincial government's contribution to the Glenbow.

"We see this as a national example of governments, the private sector, generous private donors, municipal organizations, city leadership coming together to do something that will inspire generations."

Greener museum

Alberta Infrastructure Minister Prasad Panda and Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek were on hand for the announcement.

Once the renovation is complete, there will be improved access to a quarter of a million works of art and artifacts in the Glenbow's collection.

The head of the museum also touted the benefits of renovating the existing downtown building.

President and CEO Nicholas Bell said this is a more environmentally friendly decision than building a whole new museum.

"We are fiercely proud we are not tearing this building down," said Bell.

"By working with the infrastructure we already have, Glenbow will keep 38,000 tonnes of concrete out of the landfill. By renovating this building rather than destroying it, we will prevent 56,000 tonnes of new carbon production over its useable life."

Bell said the cost of the renovation will be a "fraction of the cost of new construction."

Fundraising success

With the $40 million federal contribution, he said that a total of $152 million has been raised for the project.

Having eclipsed their original fundraising target of $135 million, Bell said they have a new goal.

"We've increased our official campaign goal to $175 million, recognizing that there remains extraordinary potential to grow this project in a way that benefits this community," said Bell.

In addition to the federal cash, the Alberta government has stepped up with $40 million. The City of Calgary is contributing $11 million.

The Glenbow-Alberta Institute is putting $14 million into the project.

The museum has also been taking private contributions.

For example, earlier this year, the Shaw Family Foundation donated $25 million to create the J.R. Shaw Free Admissions Endowment which means entry to the Glenbow will be free.

The foundation also funded a $10 million endowment to create the J.R. Shaw Institute for Canadian Art.

The museum said that will allow it to feature annual exhibitions, diverse programs, an artist-in-residence program as well as an internship and fellowship program.

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