Glenbow wants to be “a new kind of art museum”

Potential new look for Glenbow’s main floor includes a brighter more inviting space.

Glenbow has revealed plans for a new look and a new direction. "We’re going to be positioning ourselves as a new kind of art museum" Donna Livingstone president and CEO announced February 6.

In addition to "refreshing" the floors to create brighter spaces improving signage adding a café or bistro on the main level and using new colours and branding (it’s now just "Glenbow") the vision includes some tweaks to the programming.

Following a year of review and consultation Livingstone said Glenbow will be focusing on being relevant and sustainable. "We recognize that the way we had been doing things wasn’t working" she added. "We needed to do something different at Glenbow."

One of the ways Glenbow hopes to achieve that is by telling stories that engage the community and keep people coming back which she acknowledged has been a challenge.

A highlight of the plan involves showcasing more of the museum’s existing collection — Glenbow has more than 30000 works making it the largest art collection west of Toronto. To achieve that the fourth floor would feature a special gallery that allows exhibitions to be changed every three months or so.

"Our art collection is the heart of what we do" Livingstone said. "Those works help us tell a different story and make us an important resource centre for the arts."

Glenbow will also offer new programming on the third floor to complement the Mavericks and First Nations exhibitions including the potential for theatre and dance performances.

On the second floor Glenbow will continue to host international touring exhibitions which Livingstone said have been successful at bringing in visitors.

The cosmetic changes will be accomplished in the short-term but the other changes are longer term goals that will require support.

One thing that won’t change is the building — Livingstone said although some of the feedback suggested that people don’t like the building she joked that Brutalist architecture "is cool now" and pointed out that Glenbow is in a great location on Stephen Avenue with affordable weekend parking.