An art fan tours the Perceptions of Promise exhibit at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary on Jan. 10, 2011. The Glenbow Museum is believed to be the first major Canadian museum to offer free admission -- permanently -- thanks to a multimillion-dollar legacy donation from the family of Calgary businessman and philanthropist, the late JR Shaw. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

‘Jewel in Alberta’s cultural crown’: Shaw family donates $35M to Glenbow Museum

CALGARY — An art and history museum in Calgary is believed to be the first major Canadian museum to offer free admission — permanently — thanks to a multimillion-dollar legacy gift.

The family of the late Calgary businessman and philanthropist JR Shaw has given $35 million in what the Glenbow says is the largest donation since the museum opened in 1976.

Much of the money is to be used to cover general admission costs in perpetuity, and $10 million is meant to create the JR Shaw Institute for Canadian Art.

Julie Shaw, president of the Shaw Family Foundation, says the contribution is the best way to honour her father, who she says was passionate about celebrating Canadian art and artists.

JR Shaw founded Shaw Communications and Corus Entertainment and received the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2008.

The Glenbow is undergoing an extensive $120-million renovation that will completely transform the downtown museum, which plans to reopen in 2024.

“The Glenbow collection belongs to the people of Alberta and now, thanks to the incredible generosity and vision of the Shaw family, it will truly be inclusive and accessible to everyone,” museum president Nicholas Bell said Thursday.

Premier Jason Kenney called the Glenbow “the jewel in Alberta’s cultural crown” and said the donation “truly is a wonderful testament to JR that reflects his tremendous impact and love of Calgary.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2022.

The Canadian Press