Historic Calgary planetarium gets new life as art gallery

The Calgary Centennial Planetarium is currently under construction as seen on June 19, 2018. Global News

The City of Calgary and Contemporary Calgary have reached an agreement that will see a new art gallery open in the Centennial Planetarium next year.

According to the city, the space will be used to showcase both modern and contemporary world-class art and put Calgary on the map as a destination for visual arts.

“Together, we will see the planetarium evolve into a place that will become a feature attraction in Calgary and will help to revitalize the surrounding neighbourhood,” said Kurt Hanson, the general manager of Community Services for the city.

Contemporary Calgary Board Chair Jay Mehr said the gallery will showcase both local and international art and it will serve as a place for Calgarians to continue to learn, be challenged and inspired.

The city is spending $24.5 million to upgrade the Centennial Planetarium and bring the building up to code before Contemporary Calgary takes over the space.

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READ MORE: Work begins to convert Calgary’s Centennial Planetarium into cultural hub

The lease agreement allows Contemporary Calgary to occupy the entire property on a 25-year term with the option of extending the lease 10 years if it chooses. It will also allow the group to have control over all sublets including food, retail, gallery and event rentals.

According to Mehr, the facility has sat empty for several years since its last occupant. He said the fact that it will soon have a new resident is good news for Calgary.

“The Centennial Planetarium has sat empty for a few years, not only as a reflection of our current economic times but also as we search to identify a new role and opportunity for this magnificent building,” Mehr said on Tuesday.

The planetarium was built in 1967 for the 100th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation and was once home to the Calgary Science Centre before it moved to its new location in 2011.

Renovations are expected to be finished by December of this year which will allow for an opening date in 2019, the city said in a news release.

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