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Arts group to share vision for old planetarium, new gallery at open house

Contemporary Calgary is set to reveal some early design plans for turning the old planetarium building into a contemporary art gallery, Members of arts group Contemporary Calgary will provide insights and host the exhibition and interactive survey.
The idea is to turn the iconic 1967 landmark at Seventh Avenue and 11th Street S.W.into a world-class destination for modern and contemporary art.Design architect Bruce Kuwabara will also be on hand at the open house.Leinster, CEO of the arts organization.You know, How do you want to feel when you come to this new experience? What would you want to see and do here? What visions do you have for the future of this neighbourhood? So its meant to be fun and interactive, and weve had just tremendous interest from the community — over 450 people are coming.
Deal finally signed to turn old Calgary planetarium into contemporary art galleryLeinster says the planetarium building has always been a place people have gone to be inspired.When we think about the highest level vision for the space, its really to create a place that is welcoming, inviting and inclusive of all people, Leinster said.
The downtown west and this particular site has always been a place where Calgarians have come to be inspired, whether that was at the planetarium in the 60s or at the Calgary Science Centre. So I think were really excited about bringing a new cultural attraction to our city and really activating an amazing, amazing space.The planetarium was built to mark the centenary of Canadas confederation. Starting in the 1980s, it housed the science centre, which vacated the building in 2011 for its current premises, Telus Spark.
The building has been vacant ever since.But Contemporary Calgary now has some big plans.Flexible spaceIts a unique venue. And then the fact that we are a contemporary art museum allows us to really present art in an interesting context in this brutalist building, Leinster said.Our plans are to transform that into a really flexible space that can bring any number of different types of art responses, whether thats projection, sound experiences — you name it. When weve had artists into the building on tours over the past number of weeks, theres just a tremendous amount of excitement for creating art in such an amazing new context.
Leinster says the group would like to see the building host events after hours and become a real community hub.Weve had the animated objects festival through, weve had the Alberta Ballet through, weve had a number of different collaborators and creators come through because we really want this to be a community space and a hub where people can engage in many different types of art and creativity, he said.So certainly its going to be a dynamic place. We also, of course, see this as as a great destination to hold events, weddings.We, in fact, had somebody through the other day who remembered being married in the planetarium a number of years ago in the planetarium dome — and just how amazing of an experience that is. So I think the building is really loved by Calgarians.
New roof, mechanical systemsThe building has undergone a $24.5-million modernization, which involved new mechanical systems, asbestos abatement and a new roof.The City of Calgary deserves an enormous amount of credit, Leinster said. Thats really brought it up to a base building standard, and now its Contemporary Calgarys job to transform this base building into a world-class destination for modern contemporary art.Leinster said Contemporary Calgarys lease will commence in June.We plan to activate the site perhaps even a little bit before that, working with the City of Calgary, he said.Our immediate work is were going to take that creative kids museum area, that was formerly the Telus World of Science, and transform that into a gallery space. And that will be available and ready as soon as September and the fall.
Grand reopening summer 2021Renovations will continue throughout the year, and Leinster anticipates a grand reopening of the entire facility for summer 2021. The group plans to showcase the work of artists in a series of temporary installations.So we dont maintain a collection, which I think is exciting because our work will constantly change with every season. New artists and new exhibitions will come into the facility, so youre never coming back to see the same things, he said.We think thats exciting. It just allows us to not only showcase the work of the great artists, and the great talent here in Calgary and in Alberta, but also to bring in the very best from around the world.The project will be designed by Calgary-based Gibbs Gage Architects and KPMB Architects of Toronto, and led by design architect Bruce Kuwabara. His projects include Remai Modern in Saskatoon, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa and the Gardiner Museum and TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.

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