An iconic water tower on the campus of St. Mary’s University in Calgary has re-opened as an art gallery after a five-month renovation effort – and is set to host its first exhibit in June.
“When I walked on campus for my first time, when I was hired, I saw this tower and I think it’s fair to say it was love at first sight,” Gerry Turcotte, the university’s president, said in a recent interview.
“This has been one of those obsessions for me for years.”
The 73-foot-tall water tower was built in 1921 when the site was home to orphans and elderly residents. The tower held up to 8,980 litres of water and was essentially just “a big plumbing feature” at the time, according to Turcotte.
Plans are in motion to host the first exhibit at the gallery in June. It will feature the history of Calgary before European settlers arrived.
“This is the first story because it starts with the first peoples,” Michelle Scott, the university’s director of indigenous initiatives, said in a recent interview.
“I think that art, place and space have an ability to lend itself to inspiration, and so I think that this building is an inspiring place.”
Turcotte said officials are still trying to figure out exactly how to use the new space, beyond hosting art exhibits.
“It’s a bit of an unknown, how are we going to start to use this creatively,” Turcotte said.
“There’s a lot of potential here that I am looking forward to exploring.”