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DIALOG’s Robert Claiborne on What to Expect From Glenbow’s $120-Million Renovation

April 11, 2022

Robert Claiborne, DIALOG Partner, recently spoke with Avenue Calgary Magazine to discuss the ongoing renovations to Calgary’s Glenbow museum.

When Robert Claiborne visited Glenbow back in 2013, he was immediately struck by the potential of the aged museum. “I spent three hours in Glenbow, and I left there with my sketchbook and just said, I’ve got a million ideas on how this building can be changed, revitalized, reimagined,” he says.

The transformation centres on natural light: the careful removal of floor plates will create a soaring central gallery and additional double-height gallery spaces. Transparent storage will allow visitors to see even collections that aren’t out on display. A rooftop terrace will open to the Alberta sky while a new “skin” — a unique concrete material that appears to float over the existing building — will be installed to protect the structure. Perhaps the most evocative elements of the design are the two prominent street-level entrances — Glenbow has never before had an entrance door that led right into the museum. In addition to serving as a “welcome mat” for visitors to the museum, the doors will provide sightlines through the gallery and allow light to flow in.

“We not only have an opportunity to do something momentous here, but we have an obligation to reimagine the role that this community asset can play in supporting the future,” says Nicholas R. Bell, president and CEO of Glenbow. “Museums have a long, complex and pretty fraught history with the people that they serve and don’t serve.” To that end, community engagement with diverse stakeholders across the country and Indigenous advisors has been an essential part of the reimagination of the museum.”

This past February, the museum announced permanent free admission upon its reopening thanks to a $25 million endowment fund created by the Shaw Family Foundation, another step toward creating a more open and community-minded institution.


Head to Avenue Calgary for the full article.