Calgary’s cultural importance in Western Canada is best tapped through its modern architectural landmarks, fascinating art galleries (where contemporary and cowboy art are shown side by side), educational attractions and youthful style. The art scene in Calgary is diverse while its architecture is bold.


Start with the internationally recognized Wonderland, a large wire-mesh sculpture that people can walk in and out of, with the new architecturally iconic Bow Building, standing at 58 stories, in the background. Two blocks over, the 21-foot Family of Man bronze figures have been a part of the city since 1971, originally designed for the Montreal Expo in 1967, and a long-time city favourite. Then surround yourself with the ten 26-metre tall tree sculptures that light up Stephen Avenue, a beautiful site that is particularly captivating in the winter time as the snow falls.


As the historic neighbourhood of East Village continues to grow with new residential and commercial developments, the land developer, CMLC, is dedicated to creating a community that is characterized by public art. The first art installation, Promenade, by British artist Julian Opie is a four-sided tower displaying an animations of people walking. The 20 LED panel piece is a representation of the foot traffic along the Riverwalk and the time that passes for East Village.

In July of 2015, St. Patrick’s Island was opened to the public, a long awaited addition the community that was affected by the flood of 2013. Inspired by the natural island in proximity to the downtown cityscape, Bloom is a monumental installation designed with multiple streetlights but mimics a blooming flower. During the day

The East Village currently houses five art installations, but will continue to expand the collection as it strives to make the neighbourhood a more inviting, engaging and desirable community for Calgary.


Calgary’s urban landscape has changed drastically over the years and boasts numerous public pieces of art, transforming the way people experience the city. As a part of the cultural mandate for the city, The City of Calgary announced The Public Art Program, a funded program a committed to showcasing public art from local, national and international artists. Keep your eyes opened as you walk through downtown; from c-train stations to wall murals along an underpass, art can be found at almost every corner.

Interested in a guided tour? The city offers an app called the Civic Art Circuit that can be downloaded for free.


  • The Chinese Cultural Centre to see the 70-foot high tiled ceiling, decorated by hand and a replication of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing
  • Western Showcase at the Calgary Stampede, a collection from international vendors of Western art, photographs, and artisanal crafts
  • Contemporary art exhibits at the Esker Foundation
  • The Glenbow Museum, the largest collection in Western Canada of art, artifacts, archival materials, and published work documenting the history and culture of Western Canada


Where do you go in Calgary to people watch, relax, take pictures, and be surrounded by beautiful architecture and design? From East Village, take a walk along the river where you’ll find yourself at the Peace Bridge, the iconic creation by Santiago Calatrava, an innovative structure that Calgarians frequent, whether jogging, walking or biking.

The bridge is also recognized as the backdrop for an internationally shared image for Beakerhead, the art, science and engineering festival started in Calgary. Taken by local photographer Neil Zeller, the image of an astronaut and the Peace Bridge was widely shared and published around the world in Beakerhead’s inaugural year.

Down the pathway is Poppy Plaza War Memorial, a recently opened public space at the entrance of Kensington. Local companies Marc Boutin Architectural Collaborative and Stantec Consulting designed the commemorative space for Canada’s war veterans, erecting large weathered steel walls inscripted with quotes from world leaders and civilians. Architecturally designed but sentimental in concept, the Poppy Plaza offers a space for reflection and serenity.

More Great Story Ideas