History and museums
The Glenbow Museum is an art and history museum in the city of Calgary in the province of Alberta Canada. It was established by well-known philanthropist Eric Lafferty Harvie.
Glenbow’s vision is for more people to experience art and culture more often. In February 2014, Glenbow announced its new direction – to provide visitors with a new kind of art museum experience. Glenbow showcases world-renowned traveling and permanent exhibitions that are meaningful to many diverse groups in our community, boasts the largest art collection in Western Canada and provides access and care to the collections.
Glenbow also tells the story of Southern Alberta and the West to thousands of visitors to our city each year through permanent exhibitions on the third floor.
The Glenbow-Alberta Institute was formed in 1966, when Eric Harvie donated his vast historical collection to the people of Alberta. It was initially funded by $5 million each from Harvie and the Alberta government. Located in downtown Calgary across from the Calgary Tower, the Institute maintains the Glenbow, open to the public, which houses not only its museum collections, but also a very extensive art collection, library, and archives. In 2007, a permanent exhibit entitled "Mavericks" opened on the third floor; this exhibit traces the history of Alberta through a series of 48 influential and colourful personalities. Its current Interim President and CEO is Donna Livingstone. Former presidents and CEOs include Mike Robinson and Jeff Spalding.
The Glenbow's art collection comprises 33,000 works, mainly dating from the 19th century to the present, primarily historical, modern, and contemporary work from or pertaining to the northwest of North America. The collection contains an outstanding selection of landscape painting, a renowned Canadian prints collection including works from Walter J. Phillips and modernist printmaker Sybil Andrews, First Nations and Inuit Art, American illustration, and wildlife Art. Works from other parts of the world provide a broader national and international frame of reference.
The Glenbow cultural history collection contains over 100,000 objects originating from many corners of the world, providing insight into the life in Western Canada from the late 19th century to the present day. Items in the collection reveal how people made a living, worshiped, and were governed, what they did to relax, how they dressed and ate, and how family mementos helped create a home in a new land. The cultural history collection also includes important holdings of Alberta pottery, Western Canadian folk studies, northern explorations, numismatics, pressed glass, and textiles.
The Glenbow ethnology collection contains approximately 48,000 items made or used by the indigenous peoples of North America, particularly the Northern Plains, as well as the Northwest Coast, Arctic, and Subarctic regions, and select regions of South America, Africa, Oceania, and Asia.
The Glenbow's military collection is the most diverse in Western Canada, with 26,000 items, spanning many countries over nearly five centuries, particularly European, Asian, and North American firearms and edged weapons. Also well represented are Japanese arms and armour, and Canadian medals, orders, and decorations.
The Glenbow's extensive mineralogy collection includes minerals and precious and semi-precious stones from around the world, particularly Western Canada. Specimens were selected for exhibition value as well as mineralogical significance, and the 'Treasures of the Mineral World' exhibition is popular with geologists, rock hounds, and visitors of all ages seeking to enjoy the depth and diversity of the Earth's minerals. The exhibit includes minerals that glow in the dark, a display of fool's gold, a piece of the Earth's oldest rock, and rock crystals in every colour of the rainbow.
In addition, the Glenbow has a substantial Asian collection on semi-permanent loan from the Bumper Development Corporation Ltd., including reliefs, masks, paintings and sculptures in stone, wood, and metal from the Buddhist and Hindu cultures of Asia, from the 1st century to the 18th century.
The Glenbow's library contains 100,000 books, periodicals, newspapers, maps, and pamphlets with relevance to Western Canada, from the time buffalo roamed the plains, to the coming of the railroad and settlement of the West, to political, economic and social events in Alberta today. The collection includes rare illustrated equestrian literature from the 15th century, school books from one-room school houses, and numerous volumes and other material related to the Museum's collections of military history, ethnology, mineralogy and art.
The Glenbow archives are one of Canada's largest non-governmental repositories and a major research centre for historians, writers, students, genealogists, and the media. They comprise an extremely large collection of archival records of individuals, families, organizations and businesses from Western Canada and includes 3,500 metres of textual records, over a million photographs, 350 hours of film footage, and 1,500 sound recordings. The Archives range from the 1870s to the 1990s, documenting the social, political and economic history of Western Canada, particularly Calgary and southern Alberta. Areas of specialty include First Nations, Métis genealogy, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, ranching and agriculture, the petroleum industry, politics, labour, women, and business. Unique collections in the archives include catalogs, cookbooks, records of land sales by the Canadian Pacific Railway, maps, school yearbooks, extensive genealogical resources, and an excellent collection of resources for the study of Métis genealogy.