9 iconic pieces of public art to check out in downtown Calgary

Sep 23 2021, 8:13 pm

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YYC is home to some incredible public art, and there’s plenty of it to be found within walking distance when you’re in downtown Calgary.

To help guide you, the City of Calgary has an interactive online Public Art MapĀ detailing the location of 22 pieces in downtown, along with artwork in the city’s four quadrants.

Calgary even has a whole festival dedicated to public art. The Beltline Urban Murals Project (affectionately known as BUMP) takes place annually in the month of August. During this time each year, you’ll see some unique, colourful, and thoughtful pieces added to buildings in the Beltline community, downtown Calgary, and surrounding areas.

In addition to mural painting, BUMP also features things like graffiti jams, live music, artistsā€™ talks, outdoor cinema, and mural tours, giving Calgarians a way to engage with the art (and artists) of the city.

And if you’re more into 3D art, there are a number of sculptures and other interactive pieces scattered throughout downtown, so there’s sure to be something for everyone in the heart of the city.

Here are nine pieces of public art you need to check out in downtown Calgary.

Chinook Arc


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The shape of Chinook Arc was inspired by the historic Beltline Streetcar loop that once encircled the neighbourhood, along with the Chinook arch phenomenon that sometimes appears in Calgary’s skies. This piece of art offers an opportunity for the public to have some fun, as Calgarians can control the colour and speed of the Chinook Arc‘s illuminating light show by using video on their phones.

Where to find it:Ā Barb Scott Park (1211 9th Street SW)



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Have you even been to downtown Calgary if you haven’t taken a picture of the Wonderland sculpture? This artwork is famous for good reason, and looks just as cool when you’re standing inside of it as when you’re looking at it straight on. Plus, the stunning Bow tower provides a perfect backdrop for photos of Wonderland.

Where to find it:Ā The Bow tower (110 6th Avenue SE)

BUMP pieces


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Since its beginnings in 2017, BUMP has been responsible for some of the most incredible public art in the city. More than 70 murals have come out of the festival, with the majority of them in and around the Beltline and downtown Calgary. Check out BUMP’s website for the location of each.

Where to find them: Various locations in Calgary

The Family of Man

These tall male and female figures are meant to embody all humanity as they interact, without any social markers of individuality, race, or class. Enjoy a picnic as these sculptures tower above you, with the Calgary Tower peeking out in the background.

Where to find it:Ā 515 – 577 1st Street SE

Women are Persons!

Women are Persons! shows Alberta’s “Famous Five” in a tea party setting in Olympic Plaza. The Famous Five (Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Nellie McClung, Louise Crummy McKinney, and Irene Parlby) were leaders during various campaigns for womenā€™s rights back in the 1880s and 1890s.

Where to find it:Ā Olympic Plaza (228 8th Avenue SE)

Device to Root Out Evil

The Device to Root Out Evil (or “upside church,” as it’s more commonly known) was first unveiled in 1997 in Vienna, Austria. The sculpture lived in Calgary from 2008 to 2014 before returning in 2019, and it makes for a unique landmark in East Village.

Where to find it:Ā 5th Street Square (at 5th Street and 7th Avenue SE)



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Calgary’s new Central Library turned heads and won awards for its architecture when it opened in 2018, but the area surrounding the impressive building has much to offer as well. TRIO, a fun statue comprised of three “bobbing birds,” uses electro-magnetic motors to make these massive creatures move.

Where to find it: Central Library (800 3rd Street SE)


Chances are, if you’ve visited St. Patrick’s Island, you’ve seen this tall, quirky-cool piece of art. The light-and-metal sculpture stands 23 metres high and is composed of repurposed street lights, which still illuminate, as you’ll see if you check out Bloom in the evening hours.

Where to find it:Ā St. Patrick’s Island (across from the Simmons Building at 618 Confluence Way SE)

Winter Garden chandeliers

The Winter Garden in Jamieson Place offers a welcome respite from chilly weather, along with some stunning art. The indoor garden boasts chandeliersĀ by Dale Chihuly, a world-renowned glass sculptor, and the creations are made up of more than 400 pieces of blown glass.

Where to find it:Ā Jamieson Place (308 4th Avenue SW)

Elle McLeanElle McLean

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