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90,000 artifacts relocated to new storage units at Glenbow Museum

Tens of thousands of artifacts have been meticulously relocated in the first phase of the Glenbow Museum renovation.

The Calgary museum has undertaken the ambitious Glenbow Reimagined project. They recently upped their fundraising target to $175 million, and offered free admission to the new building forever.

As the work progresses, they’ve relocated 90,000 artifacts from collections of Africa, Asia, South America, and life in the West, into new storage units over the past 18 months.

Daryl Betenia, the Glenbow’s director of collections, said the most interesting and challenging part of the move is that it stayed in the building during the renovations.

Betenia said the different trades would move in to perform the work and the storage company, ACME Visible, would come in and install storage units.

“We would move the collections into those new storage units and then we would move to a different section and do the same thing all over again,” said Betenia.

ACME Visible documented a portion of the renovation process in a time-lapse video.

New storage is better for the archives

Betenia said the reason the older storage units are being replaced with new ones is because of their older style. They date back to when the Glenbow Museum moved into its current building 40 years ago.

The new storage is much more accessible and much better for the objects, according to Betenia. The units consist of white metal, metal trays and metal shelving, she said.

It provides better access for researchers, and ultimately, the public.

“It’s powder-coated metal, which is very good for the objects. It will have absolutely no impact on the objects in any kind of negative way. It also makes the collection more accessible and more visible,” said Betenia.

“It’s going to be very good for the public because it increases accessibility. The objects will be very well cared for moving into the future. It’s a very good outcome.”

Upgrading the collection storage is a key part of the renovation. It opens the collections to the public, Betenia said.

“We’re taking people behind the scenes, it’s much easier to see things. We literally have windows into the collection. There are public spaces on each of our collection floors with windows into the storage area, people can see what is there,” she said.

The Glenbow Museum is currently closed to the public and won’t be open till late 2024.

However, there are popup spaces that have temporary exhibitions in the Edison building, a block from the Glenbow in the downtown area for the public to enjoy, according to Betenia.