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The 11 Best Museums In Calgary

Published by: Bounce30 November, 2022
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Calgary is a majestic city to visit filled with cool tourist attractions and interesting features. Museum hopping in Calgary is a fabulous activity that gives you a glimpse into the history of the city, showcases artists from near and far, and teaches about the local natural resources.

Finding the best museums in Calgary can be a bit daunting as there are so many museums, big and small, that are unique and interesting. Keep reading to find which ones are well worth the price of admission and why. History lovers will fall in love with Fort Calgary whereas art lovers will find Studio Bell to be one of the most fascinating places.

Before you nab your tickets for a day of museum hopping, drop your bags at a Calgary luggage storage locker for safekeeping since most museums will not allow large bags inside. You do not want to be left holding the bag while others can breeze right through the line.

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Glenbow Museum Calgary

You will definitely want to check out this art and history museum which just happens to be one of the more famous museums in Calgary. Plan on spending a lazy afternoon wandering through the amazing exhibits in the Glenbow Museum where the main focus is on community and togetherness.

The exhibits are constantly changing so you can visit often and see new things from around the world. Art in history comes alive. Contemporary art is also showcased. Other unique exhibits highlight the early life in Calgary as well as the immigration experience. The Métis activism and portraiture of life during a pandemic is an especially interesting and moving exhibit that you will enjoy.

Located across from the Calgary Tower in downtown Calgary, the Glenbow Museum is operated by the Glenbow-Alberta Institute. The permanent exhibit named Mavericks is a fun and vibrant way to learn about the history of Alberta with a series of 48 influential people throughout history.

The Glenbow Museum has more than 93,000 square feet of space with over 20 galleries filled with just a sample of the million objects that are part of the museum. The museum is undergoing renovations from 2022 through 2024 but a smaller satellite location is open until renovations are complete so you can still experience some of the collections this museum has to offer.

Address: 130 9 Avenue SE, Calgary, AB

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Fort Calgary

Fort Calgary is located where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet and offers a window into Alberta’s past. Here you will learn more about the Indigenous people including Nakoda, Blackfoot, and Tsuut ’ina who have lived on these lands for centuries. The fort was built in 1875 for the North West Mounted Police. The fort was repurposed in 1914 as a refuge and hospital.

In 1978, Fort Calgary was turned into an interpretive center and focused on togetherness and education. Take a tour through the Métis Cabin and explore the different exhibitions that emphasize the mission of the museum.

Address: 750 9 Avenue SE, Calgary, AB

Tsuut ’ina Culture Museum

When you visit Calgary, you will notice the celebration of Indigenous people in Alberta. The Tsuut ’ina Culture Museum opened in 1983 and connects Indigenous youth with their community as well as preserves the culture. This is also a wonderful place for you to learn about the Tsuut ’ina people and their way of life.  

The museum is in the Tsuut ’ina nation so you will want to book a tour in advance to ensure there is a spot for you. The beautiful Albertan landscape will take your breath away. After touring the museum make your way to the gift shop where you will find amazing crafts and art handmade by the Indigenous people as well as books and jewelry.

Address: 62 Old Agency Road, Priddis, AB

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Studio Bell

Home to one of the most unique museums in Calgary, Studio Bell is the place to be to explore the National Music Centre if you are a music lover. The permanent collections are wonderful and the interesting temporary collections will take you on a journey through the history of music in Canada.

The interactive exhibits make this a joy to explore. You can even create your own music which will delight your children. Come on the weekends and check out the concerts and other special events offered. The Canadian Music Hall of Fame is also at Studio Bell; stroll through and admire the Canadian musicians that have shaped the country’s music scene.

Address: 850 4 St SE, Calgary, AB

Heritage Park and Gasoline Alley Museum

The largest living museum in Canada, Heritage Park, covers over 127 acres and showcases how the west once was. You can literally spend all day exploring this phenomenal living museum with more than 200 different exhibits and attractions. The educational experience is balanced with a day of fun and excitement.

Plan your visit during the summer and set sail on the S.S. Moyie or ride the train that runs through Heritage Park. There are plenty of eateries and shops throughout the park, one particular favorite for children and adults is the old-fashioned candy store.

The Gasoline Alley Museum is located inside Heritage Park and is a 75,000-square-foot museum that has unique antique vehicles, oil and gas-related artifacts, and restored gas pumps. The history of Alberta’s whiskey runners can be found here as well as other tall tales relating to Alberta folklore.

Address: 1900 Heritage Drive SW, Calgary, AB

Canadian Sports Hall of Fame

Sports fans will flock to the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. This legendary museum is filled with exhibits that highlight sports throughout Canada. The hall of fame was established in 1955 and since then has had over 700 athletes inducted, including athletes from all different types of sporting events.

This is the only national museum of sport in the country and is one of the most interesting and absolute best museums to explore even if you are not a sports fan. The goal of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame is to educate Canada’s youth about the values of athletics and sportsmanship. The interactive exhibits make it a fun place to spend an afternoon.

Address: 169 Canada Olympic Rd SW, Calgary, AB

The Hangar Flight Museum

Learning about the history of aviation in Western Canada may not seem exciting to some, but this one-of-a-kind museum is housed in a drill hall that was once part of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan that dates back to World War II.

The museum is a good place to learn more about Alberta’s history while seeing some pretty cool aircraft. Interactive exhibits will transport you back in time to see how the use of aircraft shaped military history. Spend a few hours exploring the Hangar Flight Museum.

Address: 4629 McCall Way NE, Calgary, AB

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The Military Museums

This tri-military museum is an absolute must-see when you are in Calgary. Learn about the history and heritage of the Western Canadian military with exhibits that take you back over the past 200 years. Stroll through the galleries and check out the exhibitions that highlight the importance of the Canadian military.

In 2006 the tri-military museum expanded from just the Museum of Regiments to include the Air Force Museum of Alberta and the Naval Museum of Alberta and became the Military Museums. As you wander through you will see fighter planes, tanks, uniforms, intelligence, and communications exhibits and so much more. One of the highlights is the Enigma Machine from WWII.

The Museum of Regiments was formally opened in June 1990 by Queen Elizabeth II and was dedicated to preserving and documenting the history of the three branches of the Canadian military; the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Address: 4520 Crowchild Trail SW, Calgary, AB

TELUS Spark Science Center

Some people argue that science centers are not museums, but the TELUS Spark Science Center is a fully-functioning interactive museum filled with interesting exhibits, fun play areas, exciting collections and educational experiences, and an HD planetarium theatre. It is one of the best science museums in Calgary.

The science center offers a fun experience where children can explore and learn about science, technology, engineering, art, and math, or STEAM, in an exciting and fun way. Climb a three-story tower and then glide down the 63-foot slide located in the outdoor park, create your own animation, watch a movie or live show in the planetarium, generate electricity, or experience an audio storm.

Address: 220 Saint George's Drive Northeast, Calgary, AB

Esker Foundation

This modern art museum is one of the best art galleries in Calgary. Filled with imaginative and innovative art exhibits, art lovers will enjoy spending an hour or so at the Esker Foundation. You can even borrow audio, books, and video resources to take home and enjoy an art at-home experience for those wanting a deeper understanding of the arts.

Address: 1011 9 Avenue SE 4th Floor, Calgary, AB

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YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre

An amazing experience for anyone interested in law enforcement, the YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre is filled with exhibits about police work and interesting criminal cases in Alberta. It is a place where kids can discover the importance of law enforcement officers including canine officers. The live demonstrations of the police dogs in action are awe-inspiring.

The interactive forensics lab is an experience you will not forget as you are presented with a case study and clues and you have to try to figure out by examining the evidence what happened and who did it. Meet retired and active police officers during a meet and greet and listen to some of their stories. Check out the gift shop before you leave for a few interesting gifts for the kids.

Address: 5111 47 St NE, Calgary, AB

What are the best free museums in Calgary?

Calgary is home to several wonderful museums that also offer free admission. When you are on a budget (or have spent your money in Calgary shopping) but still want to enjoy some fantastic museums, check out the free ones first and save your money for souvenirs, food, and drinks. Some of the special exhibits at these museums may not be free, but general admission is free.

Remember to see Glenbow Museum Calgary, TELUS Spark Science Center, Military Museums and Fort Calgary.

Which are the best museums in Downtown Calgary?

There are several great museums in the downtown Calgary area, which makes it easy to visit several in one day without having to hop on public transit or search for parking spaces at the busy museums. Spend a morning museum-hopping in downtown Calgary and check out these terrific downtown museums.

We recommend again Glenbow Museum Calgary and TELUS Spark Science Center. As well, we suggest YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre and the Chinese Cultural Centre Museum.

Are there any cheap museums in Calgary?

While for some cheap means free, others may think that cheap means a deeply discounted price. So, while the term cheap is ambiguous, there are several Calgary museums that offer cheap admission. But special exhibits and collections may cost more to visit once you are inside the museum.

Try the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, Studio Bell, The Hangar Flight Museum, and Gasoline Alley Museum.

Make a stop at Calgary Museums

 From exhibitions showcasing aviation history to art galleries filled with interesting, vibrant art, future generations will be able to enjoy these Calgary museums for years to come. Whether you are an art or aviation enthusiast, you will find plenty to keep you busy. Spend a day and do a little museum hopping in Calgary.

Learn about the deep Indigenous history at Tsuut ’ina Culture Museum, and visit the Aero Space Museum, the History Museum, the Sports Hall of Fame, or Military Museums. The sprawling space and surrounding Albertan landscape will draw you in, making you feel right at home.

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