The Glenbow Museum is an understated gem in downtown Calgary, one that is working hard to attract visitors.
Established in 1966, the Glenbow Museum was established by philanthropist Eric Lafferty Harvie.
Despite having only four floors of display space for its spectacular collection, it is one of the largest museums in western Canada.
There have been many recent changes made to the museum to draw more of a crowd.
In 2014, it unveiled plans to provide visitors with a new kind of art museum experience.
“We think everybody in Calgary would find something to interest them at Glenbow,” said Jenny Conway Fisher the marketing and communications manager of the museum.
Fisher explains that they are always working to encourage more people to make art and culture a part of their regular lives, because art can inspire everyone.
She says that’s why they offer many different events and ways to access Glenbow, to make it as easy as possible to have a good time there and find value in the experience.
“I think for the public this year, we have had more people coming in, and the tourists seem to be staying longer in the year,” said Audrey Jahraus, the visitor experience representative.
Fisher says that the total annual attendance from April 1, 2016 to March 31, 2017, was 139,641 people. That was an increase of 14,741 people from the year before.
She says that there have been small increases over the last few years, but this year was a bigger jump.
The Free First Thursday Nights have increased overall attendance and brought in new audiences.
Jahraus says that The Glenbow marketing team is always trying to get more people involved in the Glenbow through Twitter and Facebook.
The biggest event to draw people in is the ever-popular Launch Parties.
They get between 600-1,000 people attending these evening events.
The Glenbow has three of these parties a year for all-ages and admission is by donation.
This summer’s exhibition , Kent Monkman’s Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience, was very popular.
Fisher says that in the last two months it’s been pretty consistent, not extremely busy, just really even. On their Free First Thursday Night they usually see about 1,500 people.
Since January 2016, when they started Free First Thursday Nights, they have had 35,424 people come to Glenbow on those nights.
“We don’t think young people are less interested, we think they are more busy, there is a lot of competition for people’s attention,” said Fisher.
She says that they know that young people in there 20s have different priorities than older or younger people, and they spend their time and money on different things.
There is a lot of research that suggests that young people are looking for authentic, exciting, inexpensive and share-worthy experiences, and that they are interested in trying new things.
They have seen a lot of young people at Free First Thursday Night, which is likely due to the “free” part, and at the Launch Parties.
The fact that they are open later those nights makes it easier for people to fit a Glenbow experience into their schedules.