History and culture come to life at Calgary museums

Though Calgary is a comparatively young city, it’s home to several museums that document its history and that of Western Canada. Several museums of national stature include the National Music Centre and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Fine art is also on display. Calgary’s museum scene offers something for everyone from art lover to history buff to sport enthusiast, child and adult alike.

Glenbow Museum

130 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0P3

The Glenbow Museum is Calgary’s largest multidisciplinary museum. Located on Stephen Avenue Walk, the Glenbow is home to several world-renowned permanent exhibitions including an extensive array of Asian sculpture; a many-faceted historical display titled Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta; the Blackfoot Gallery and a mineralogy collection. The Glenbow also houses Western Canada’s largest art collection, often featuring pieces drawn from its own collection as well as travelling exhibitions. Of particular note are the Museum’s “behind-the-scenes” tours, as well as its unique gifts.

The Military Museums

4520 Crowchild Trail SW, Calgary, AB T2T 5J4

The Military Museums of Calgary is Canada’s second-largest military museum next to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. As the name suggests, this attraction explores Canadian military history from the Northwest Rebellion of 1885, to the world wars, to modern peacekeeping operations. This complex of eight museums and galleries features displays on Canadian army, navy and air force history.

The Hangar Flight Museum

4629 McCall Way NE, Calgary, AB T2E 8A5

“To inspire dreams of flight,” is the Aero Space Museum of Calgary’s soaring mandate. Appropriately located close to the Calgary International Airport, the museum houses a collection of civilian and military aircraft spanning an entire century of flight and includes planes that are particularly relevant to the history of aviation in Western Canada. Among the Museum’s 24 restored aircraft are biplanes, an Avro Anson – used for flight training during the Second World War – a Lancaster bomber and a Cessna crop sprayer.

Nickle Galleries

The Nickle Galleries – formerly The Nickle Arts Museum – are housed on the main floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library on the University of Calgary campus. They showcase Western Canadian contemporary art. Besides art exhibitions, the Nickle Galleries feature an extensive rug and textile collection as well as one of Canada’s “most important” coin accumulations.

National Music Centre

840 4 Street SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0L8

The National Music Centre houses a collection of more than 2,000 artifacts that outline the history of music technology and tell the story of music in Canada. The centre is also moving to impressive new digs in the summer of 2016. Studio Bell is a 160,000-square-foot facility in Calgary’s East Village. Five floors of exhibition space will showcase a large array of musical items such as barrel organs, grand pianos, synthesizers, harpsichords, accordions and a theatre organ.

Heritage Park Historical Village

1900 Heritage Dr SW, Calgary, AB T2V 2X3

Billed as “Canada’s largest living-history museum,” Heritage Park is home to a number of heritage buildings and homesteads that provide a snapshot of Western Canadian life from the 1860s to the 1950s. Costumed interpreters help bring locales such as the one-room schoolhouse, the Wainwright Hotel and the hospital to life. The park’s Gasoline Alley Museum houses one of the world’s largest public collections of antique vehicles and oil-and-gas-related artifacts. Visitors can also catch a ride on the steam train that circles the Park, as well as the historic paddle wheeler that cruises adjacent Glenmore Reservoir.

Lougheed House

707 13 Ave SW, Calgary, AB T2R 0K8

Built in 1891, Lougheed House was the grandiose home of Senator James Lougheed and his family. Located in Calgary’s Beltline district, the sandstone building is now a national historic site. Visitors can tour its grand interior, explore various historical exhibitions that sometimes grace its lower level, enjoy its beautiful gardens in summer and dine at The Restaurant at Lougheed House. The museum is also a popular spot for weddings and sometimes acts as a concert venue.

Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

Located at Canada Olympic Park, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame preserves and celebrates Canadian sports history. The Hall of Fame touches upon 65 sports from BMX biking to hockey to ski jumping. An extensive collection of artefacts is on display, including a full-scale replica of the Bluenose sailboat and a shoe that belonged to Terry Fox. There are also more than 50 interactive displays through which visitors can experience what it’s like to fly off a ski jump, row a boat or shadow box with former world heavyweight champ Lennox Lewis.

Fort Calgary

750 9 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 5E1

Fort Calgary is situated on the eastern edge of downtown at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. In 1875, the North-West Mounted Police constructed a wooden fort here that served as the seedling for the future city of Calgary. Today, the Fort Calgary interpretive centre features interactive exhibits and colourful stories from Calgary’s past. Sunday brunch is also a popular draw here, as are monthly dinner theatre events.

Culture is alive and flourishing in this Calgary, and nowhere more so than in its vibrant live-theatre scene. From classic to contemporary, G-rated to X-rated, searing drama to sidesplitting comedy, Calgary theatre companies offer a diverse array of performances for equally diverse audiences – from those who want to be stimulated intellectually and emotionally to those in search of a hearty laugh.
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