University of Calgary

Military Museum

June 11, 2009
Joined by Colleen Sharpe and Thomas Hickerson from U of C Library and Cultural Resources, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wes
Joined by Colleen Sharpe and Thomas Hickerson from U of C Library and Cultural Resources, Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex cuts the ribbon to officially open the expanded Military Museums along with the Founders Gallery and the Library and Archives, both operated by the University of Calgary.

Royal visit to celebrate military museum grand opening

On June 6, U of C staff met Sophie, Countess of Wessex, who visited Calgary’s Military Museums for the grand opening of the expanded facility. The museums’ Library and Archives as well as the new Founders Gallery are operated by the University of Calgary Library and Cultural Resources and act as a U of C branch housed at the Military Museums. Now officially open to the public, the expanded library and archives welcomes students of strategic military studies, school groups, researchers and members of the public seeking records of family members who served in the military.

“The cooperation between the university and the Military Museums is an important way to serve the larger Calgary community,” says Thomas Hickerson, vice-provost for Libraries and Cultural Resources and University Librarian. “We draw on the strength of the Military Museums and the university to build a strong archival program. We have an active student program for primary and secondary students, tours of the archives and a library for formal or informal visits.”

With the expansion of space, the library and archives at the Military Museums now holds 20,000 books and has created access to all the electronic resources that are available through the main U of C library. Additionally, it has acquired some unique materials.

“We now have battle maps showing the exact locations of Canadian battles during World War I,” says Hickerson. “One map conveys the entirety of Canadian battle sites, showing how significant battles took place in close proximity to each other. These artifacts are impressive for understanding what went on and are real research resources as well.”

The Military Museums expansion also includes the Founders Gallery, a new art gallery also administered by the U of C Library and Cultural Resources. The premiere exhibit is Art in the Service of War: The Emergent Group of Seven. It features four artists who were commissioned to create an official record of Canada’s participation in World War I and who were later to become part of the Group of Seven. More than 40 artworks by A.Y Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Frank Johnston, and Fred Varley are on loan from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and have never before been displayed in Calgary.

“The gallery demonstrates how military artifacts inform art and how art informs military artifacts,” says Colleen Sharpe, Curator for the gallery who was seconded from the Nickle Arts Museum. “In one artwork, A.Y. Jackson painted a gas attack he had watched from a hillside. In front of the piece is a display of gas masks and a text articulating a nurse’s perspective of the same attack. Looking through the case of gas masks onto the painting of the sight gives multiple perspectives of the event.”

The exhibit will be on display in the Founders Gallery at the Military Museums until December 6, 2009.

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