Glenbow First Thursdays

Since coming back from London, I hadn’t had a chance to get back to the Glenbow and see what was new. Thankfully, I was finally able to get to the last of Glenbow’s First Thursdays- which offers free admission to all of the exhibitions from 5-9pm on the first thursday of the month. I’m so glad the Glenbow is offering this program, giving Calgarians who might not normally attend the Glenbow and its changing exhibitions a chance to come and explore, whether for financial reasons, or because they think it’s not for them.

While some of the permanent exhibitions may be a bit outdated- as it is a massive and expensive undertaking to update these on a regular basis- there are still tons of cool, and interactive things, on display about western canadian and calgarian history, as well as from around the world.

I was also happy to get to the most recent First Thursday in particular, as it meant I got to see a variety of new temporary exhibitions- Kaleidoscopic Animalia, First Person: Contemporary Indigenous Portraiture, and Edward S Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks. In these exhibitions I saw photography, painting, portraits, fashion, artifacts… a wide variety of objects that made for a fantastic visit exploring. This was in addition to the regularly changing historical paintings, and the focus on objects space.

Kaleidoscopic Animalia is an exhibition designed and curated by Artist in Residence and local fashion designer Paul Hardy. This was a very interesting exhibit visually, contrasting fashion inspired by Canadiana and various first nations and aboriginal artifacts, with the artifacts themselves, as well as animals and decorative items.  I’m sure I had more thoughts when we were actually there, and unfortunately, I forgot my notebook. It was a good exhibition though, and interesting to see the contrasts, although we wondered how the cultures that the artifacts might feel about these objects being used as a background for fashion, and whether they were consulted or not or whether fashion really cared.   We were also quite curious about some of the specific artifacts on display, but there was often little information about them in the exhibition text- although at one point there may have been carry around guides? All we saw was an empty box where they might have been, unfortunately.


One Hundred Masterworks was also interesting. Seeing such fantastic early photographs is always amazing, as was reading about how they came to be, and the special editions commissioned of the works.

Contemporary Indigenous Portraiture was also very interesting, and I think very important. I particularly liked a piece that compared stereotypes with realities- something that I sadly think needs to happen right now, but hopefully will help visitors confront some of the stereotypes they might hold about First Nations individuals (and minorities in general).

There were a few other things I noticed around the museum that should be mentioned. Picturing the Northwest was the current exhibition of historical paintings- so it’s always worth a visit to see what’s changed in that gallery, along with the gallery beside it- which focused on artifacts with beading, including this Ukrainian beaded vest.

In the gift shop I found a great souvenir tea towel featuring all of Calgary’s landmarks. Fantastic!

Unfortunately not so fantastic was the grand piano pushed in front of the signage and leaflets for the Asia exhibition. Maybe not the best place to store large objects…Access to interpretation is important!

For more on the temporary exhibitions, which are all still running, check out the Glenbow website:

Even better- go and see them yourself!

In addition to these temporary exhibitions, the Glenbow also has lots of great ongoing and upcoming programming. Film screenings, museum after dark slumber parties, the discovery room, opening parties, and an upcoming partnership with local etsy artists.

The next first thursday will be September 1- still time to see the 3 exhibits described above!


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