April 22, 2018 1:55 pm
Updated: April 22, 2018 6:40 pm

Calgary water tower transforms into university art gallery

WATCH ABOVE: An almost 100-year-old water tower on St. Mary's University campus is now home to a unique art gallery. Joel Senick explains what it took to renovate the building and how university officials plan to utilize the new space.

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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.

The almost 100-year-old building was full of “mud, bricks [and] broken down materials” before a roughly $500,000 donation was given to renovate its interior. Now that the work is done, The Mauro Gallery has officially opened its doors.

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“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.

“We look at it now [and] think this was such a beautiful heritage building.”

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.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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