More than a thousand people turned out for Contemporary Calgary’s January 23, 2020 launch of regular programming in its new home – the old science centre/planetarium. And how appropriate that the opening exhibitions include Planetary, featuring 36 Calgary-based artists, and Museum of the Moon, by UK-based artist Luke Jerram. I missed opening night, but made a point of visiting the following day and thoroughly enjoyed both the exhibitions and the thoughtful update to a space I remember visiting many times when our now-grown kids were much younger.
Museum of the Moon
Fittingly, Luke Jerram’s 6 metre diameter highly-detailed scale model of the moon hangs from the top of the 13 metre high dome theatre.
The striking visual is enhanced by a commissioned soundtrack that appropriately blends music with audio clips from NASA missions to the moon, including the Apollo 11 touch-down fifty years ago. It’s worth settling into one of the new dome theatre seats, putting away your phone and immersing yourself in the experience for several minutes.
I let my imagine take flight and – inspired by the safety lighting on the central stairs – conceived this composite stairway to heaven…
This group exhibition features work from 36 Calgary-based artists who’ve creatively riffed off the brutalist architecture and planetarium/science centre past of Contemporary Calgary’s new space. There’s a broad mix of artistic mediums, including written word, sculpture, fused glass, photography, video, print, static, moving and interactive pieces. I found pieces from this exhibition on three different levels in the building and plan a return visit to be sure I didn’t miss anything! Here’s a small selection meant to showcase the diversity of the work:
In my opinion, the creatives behind the update to the space did a lovely job of adding new, warm, fresh finishes and features in a way that complements the grey cement of the Centennial project.
It was gratifying to see the central ramps/staircases – including the mosaic at the bottom – preserved in the new Contemporary Calgary.
I also enjoyed some bits of whimsy, like the paint lines showing where power conduits ran before the renovation.
And I’m sure this multi-faceted sculpture is a hold-over from the building’s science centre days!
There are some great, new meeting room spaces, including at least one that is fitted out with full kitchens, like this smaller one on an upper floor.
Plan Your Visit
Museum of the Moon runs through March 15th. Planetary is showing through April 26. Two exhibits for the 2020 Exposure Photography Festival are also on through April 26. The open studio artist residency running throughout 2020 is exploring the theme of Land.
Single day admission is $10. An annual pass is $20/individual or $50/family. Esker Foundation is another great contemporary art space in Calgary, with always-free admission.
Check the Contemporary Calgary website for opening hours, how to get there and details of upcoming exhibitions (including Yoko Ono’s Growing Freedom and Omar Ba’s Same Dream, both opening May 21.
And if my photos and comments aren’t enough to inspire you to check out Contemporary Calgary’s new space, consider this…