Three Downtown Gems on 9th Avenue

Calgary’s arts scene has experienced a mini-Renaissance in the last decade or so. Any long time resident can attest to the increased emphasis on creative, inclusive, intelligent cultural pursuits in a town that was long ago filed under “cowboy country” by people without knowledge or exposure to our town’s goings-on.

You and your loved ones have more opportunities than ever before to access world class art in safe, family friendly and accessible locations. With the recent opening of landmark architectural spaces like the New Central Library and National Music Centre, times have never been better for those who care to experience the musical, artistic, creative, expressive side of Calgary and the great global artists who travel here from abroad.

To minimize travel time and keep you and your family seeing maximum art with minimum hassle, we’ve found three gems close together in Calgary’s core for you to travel to, with downtown’s myriad dining establishments mere steps away to grab a bite and take a rest after all the hubbub.


National Music Centre

Within a stone’s throw of the site of Calgary’s most historic music venue, the King Eddy hotel, lies the new generation of music in the city. Alberta’s public broadcaster, CKUA, transmits from a studio behind the King Eddy, and the old venue itself has officially been revamped and transformed from derelict into a warm, inviting, tastefully executed venue for all ages to experience the best in local and international musical talent.

One of the world’s largest collections of synthesizers is the heart of a collection of over 2000 artifacts which tells the dynamic story of Canada’s role in music’s global journey. 20% of the collection is maintained in working order so visitors can experience and play the instruments as they were intended, and rotating exhibitions keep fresh musical experiences rotating through the building all year.

The seniors and boomers in the crowd will be particularly interested in musical relics like the tour bus the Rolling Stones used to record their “Sticky Fingers” and “Exile on Main St.” records, a working model of a room sized instrument designed for theatre productions in the early 20th century, and the second ever MiniMoog, one of the most popular and iconic keyboards in recording history.

For more information, and to see what’s on, visit


Esker Foundation

This not-so-hidden gem is in plain sight on 9th Avenue in Inglewood, and it is a revolving cornucopia of intriguing artistic exhibitions. It was founded by two private donors to enable public access to contemporary art, and is, in their words, “a new model for institutional relevance, curatorial focus, and audience engagement.” Translation: great art with no admission fee.

They rotate three exhibitions through each year on a seasonal basis, incorporating paintings, sculpture, audio and video, and any other medium that pushes the boundaries of contemporary art.

The Esker Foundation occasionally hosts a special tour and discussion geared specifically to seniors under the banner “Lifelong Learners.” After some creative exploration and new ideas, attendees of the session even enjoy 10% off of select eateries near the foundation.

As a fully accessible, barrier free location, with no admission fee, and immediately adjacent to the main drag of Inglewood’s myriad pubs, restaurants and eating establishments, it is a perfect centrepoint for a casual day out with family and friends.


Glenbow Museum

One of Calgary’s most established cultural hubs is pushing boundaries in 2018 and 2019, so though you may feel you’ve seen what it has to offer, think again. An exhibition of artistic renditions of space and the cosmos runs until January 6, 2019, featuring three Canadian artists depicting their visceral fascination with celestial objects through paint and mixed medium expression. Commentary by Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk lends the proceedings the air of factual experience against the backdrop of creative visual representation.

To 19th century Europeans, the world of the Arctic Circle would have seemed like a strange, hostile planet of its own, so an exhibition of real and imagined views of that place is perfectly juxtaposed against its companion exhibition. Depictions and paintings of the Arctic Circle by colonizing Europeans is balanced with Inuit perspectives in a modern reexamination of the exploration of one of Earth’s most hostile environments.

Finally, Calgary’s first major fashion exhibition depicts the greatest works of Christian Dior through the lens of the iconic designer’s pivotal decade between 1947 and 1957. His groundbreaking advances in the Parisian fashion community are felt globally to this day, and this exhibition provides a detailed progression of that rise and impact.