8 Best Museums in Calgary That Are Actually Worth Visiting

10 Min Read
Mar 3, 2024

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Calgary as we unveil the city's best museums and art galleries.

Our guide picks out the best museums and art galleries in Calgary, where you can see amazing exhibits and interesting collections. Whether you're into art or history, there's something for everyone. These places show off everything from art made by people in Calgary to famous pieces from around the world.

If you live here or you're just visiting, our guide helps you find the right museum or gallery for you. Get ready to explore Calgary's culture and creativity! You'll go on a journey through time and see lots of cool stuff that will stick with you long after you leave.

1. Contemporary Calgary

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Nestled in the bustling heart of Calgary, Contemporary Calgary emerges as a beacon for art enthusiasts and curious visitors alike.

This modern art haven stands out as a pivotal player in Calgary's cultural landscape, offering a vibrant exploration of both modern and contemporary art. 

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As you step inside Contemporary Calgary, you're immediately immersed in an atmosphere that buzzes with creative energy. The museum prides itself on showcasing a wide array of artworks that span various mediums, from intriguing installations and thought-provoking sculptures to cutting-edge digital art.

It's a place where local and international art converge, offering a unique window into the diverse narratives shaping the contemporary art scene.

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Each exhibit at Contemporary Calgary is meticulously curated to challenge perceptions and ignite conversations. Whether you're a seasoned art aficionado or a newcomer to the art world, there's always something that will catch your eye and stir your imagination.

The museum frequently rotates its exhibits, ensuring that every visit offers a fresh and exciting experience.

Location: Contemporary Calgary - Google Maps

2. Gibson Fine Art

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In the quest for artistic brilliance in Calgary, Gibson Fine Art takes a special place. This exclusive art gallery is a haven for those passionate about contemporary and abstract art.

As you wander through its inviting space, you'll find yourself in a world where art is not just seen but felt – a world that resonates with the vibrant pulse of modern creativity.

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Gibson Fine Art specializes in artworks that are more than just visual treats; they are conversations in color and form. The gallery's focus on contemporary and abstract art means that each piece you encounter is a unique expression of the artist's vision, offering a fresh perspective on the world around us.

This is where art meets design, where each piece can transform a space, adding a touch of elegance and personality to your home.

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The gallery's collection is a carefully curated ensemble of works from both established and emerging artists.

This blend ensures that visitors are always greeted with a diverse range of styles and themes, making every visit a new adventure in the world of art. 

Location: Gibson Fine Art - Google Maps

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3. Glenbow Museum

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The Glenbow Museum in Calgary it's a vibrant crossroads where art, culture, and history intersect. This remarkable institution stands out as a focal point of confluence, where a diverse flow of ideas, knowledge, opinions, and experiences come together under one roof.

As you step into the Glenbow, you're stepping into a space where the past meets the present in a fascinating dance of narratives.

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At the heart of Glenbow's allure is its exceptional collection, which paints a vivid picture of the rich tapestry that has shaped the region.

From historical artifacts that whisper tales of yesteryears to stunning art pieces that reflect the evolving artistic landscape, the museum offers a comprehensive glimpse into the diverse stories that have molded Calgary and its surroundings. 

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In addition to its permanent exhibits, the Glenbow Museum is renowned for its dynamic travelling exhibitions. These carefully curated showcases bring historical and contemporary art, fashion, design, and innovation from around the globe right to Calgary's doorstep.

Each exhibition is an exploration, an opportunity for visitors to engage with global perspectives and contemporary dialogues.

Location: Glenbow Museum - Google Maps

4. The Military Museums

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The Military Museums in Calgary stands as a testament to the bravery, sacrifice, and history of Canada's armed forces. As the largest tri-service museum in Western Canada and the second largest military museum in the country, it holds a place of pride and significance.

This museum is not just a collection of artifacts; it's a powerful narrative of Canada's military heritage.

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Upon entering The Military Museums, you're immediately transported into a world that honors the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Each exhibit is thoughtfully designed to provide an immersive experience, giving visitors a profound sense of the realities faced by military personnel throughout history.

The museum's extensive collection includes everything from meticulously preserved uniforms and medals to larger-than-life military vehicles and artillery, each piece telling its own story of courage and duty.

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One of the most striking features of The Military Museums is its commitment to education and remembrance. The museum serves as a vital educational resource, offering insights into the significant events and individuals that have shaped Canada's military past.

Interactive displays and knowledgeable guides bring these stories to life, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of the sacrifices made by men and women in uniform.

Location: The Military Museums - Google Maps

5. Fort Calgary

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Fort Calgary is a historical landmark where the tapestry of Calgary's past is intricately woven with the present. This site stands as a silent witness to the complex, diverse, and sometimes challenging histories that have shaped the region.

As you explore Fort Calgary, you're embarking on a journey through time, uncovering stories that are unique, shared, inspiring, and at times, troubling.

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The beauty of Fort Calgary lies in its ability to bring together various elements of history. Here, the land, water, animals, plants, and people converge, each adding their voice to the narrative of this place.

This convergence creates a rich mosaic of experiences that have been integral to the area for generations, informing our collective understanding of what is today known as Canada.

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Fort Calgary is more than a repository of artifacts; it's a place of ongoing discovery and learning. As you wander through its exhibits, you engage with stories that evolve and grow, reflecting the continuous learning about this historic site.

It's a place where every nook and cranny has a story to tell, from the establishment of the North West Mounted Police to the interactions with Indigenous peoples and the evolution of the city itself.

Location: Fort Calgary - Google Maps

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6. TELUS Spark Science Centre

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At the TELUS Spark Science Centre, every visit is a journey into the heart of science and creativity. It's an interactive adventure where science comes alive through hands-on exhibits, engaging multimedia presentations, and educational demonstrations.

Located in Calgary, the centre stands as a beacon of innovation and learning, attracting visitors of all ages with a thirst for knowledge and discovery.

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The moment you step into TELUS Spark, you're entering a world where curiosity is the key to unlocking wonders. The centre is designed to inspire visitors, whether they are budding scientists or just looking for an exciting day out.

Each exhibit is a playground for the mind, encouraging exploration and experimentation. From the mysteries of the human body to the wonders of space, the exhibits cover a wide range of scientific fields, ensuring there's something to spark interest in everyone.

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What sets TELUS Spark apart is its emphasis on interactive learning. The science centre believes in learning by doing, and this philosophy is evident in every corner.

Visitors are not just observers but active participants, engaging with science in a hands-on manner. This approach makes learning not only more effective but also incredibly fun.

Location: TELUS Spark Science Centre - Google Maps

7. Esker Foundation

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The Esker Foundation in Calgary stands as a testament to the power of contemporary art. This gallery, housed in a building that is itself a modern architectural marvel, is a celebration of diversity, creativity, and the unique styles that define contemporary art. A visit here is not just a walk through a gallery.

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As soon as you enter the Esker Foundation, you're struck by the sheer beauty and thoughtfulness of its design. The space is crafted to not just display art, but to enhance it, allowing each piece to communicate with the viewer without distraction.

The calm and inviting atmosphere of the gallery makes it a perfect place for contemplation and discovery, encouraging visitors to engage deeply with the artworks.

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The artworks exhibited at the Esker Foundation are nothing short of mesmerizing. They represent a wide spectrum of contemporary styles, from abstract to hyper-realistic, each piece telling a story or challenging conventions in its own unique way.

The gallery champions diversity in art, showcasing works from a variety of artists, both local and international. This approach ensures that each visit offers a fresh and varied experience, reflecting the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary art.

Location: Esker Foundation - Google Maps

8. Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre

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Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre (NMC), stands as a symphonic tribute to the rich tapestry of music in Canada. It's a celebration of sound, a journey through over 450 years of musical history and innovation.

With more than 2,000 pieces in its collection, Studio Bell is a treasure trove for music lovers, offering an immersive exploration of the sights, sounds, and stories of music in Canada.

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As you meander through the halls of Studio Bell, you'll discover a variety of exhibits that span genres, eras, and instruments. It's a place where the past, present, and future of music converge.

The collection is the foundation of the Centre's dynamic programs, providing visitors with a unique insight into Canada's musical heritage. From rare instruments to iconic memorabilia, each item has a story to tell, forming an intricate mosaic of the nation's musical landscape.

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What makes Studio Bell truly unique is its 'living' collection. The Centre is not only a guardian of musical history but also an active participant in the music scene. Over 200 fully functional historic instruments are maintained by NMC’s in-house technicians, available for use by visiting artists and artists in residence.

This feature creates a dynamic and interactive environment, where the instruments continue to resonate with the sounds of contemporary music.

Location: Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre - Google Maps

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To Sum It All Up

Well, there you have it! We've journeyed together through some of Calgary's most captivating and inspiring museums.

From the contemporary artistic wonders at Contemporary Calgary to the historical depths of Fort Calgary, and the musical melodies at Studio Bell, each destination offers its unique blend of education, inspiration, and entertainment. Calgary truly is a city brimming with cultural treasures waiting to be explored.

Remember, this list is just the beginning. Each museum in Calgary has its own story, a unique charm that reflects the diverse spirit of the city.

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