National Music Centre
Our Story Why We Exist
When famed Calgary blues club the King Edward Hotel closed in 2004, there was an outcry from the local and national music community. During its over 100-year existence, the Eddy had hosted icons, such as blues pioneers Pinetop Perkins and Buddy Guy and CanRock stalwart Bryan Adams, offering high-quality live music experiences while bringing people from all walks of life together. Rich or poor, black or white, politicians rubbed shoulders with music scenesters and bikers sat alongside corporate influencers. The Eddy represented the unifying power of music.
At the same time as its closing, the National Music Centre (NMC) had been scouring the city for the location of its new 160,000 square-foot facility. With a mandate to preserve and celebrate Canada’s music story, NMC’s new home needed to be anchored by a strong music story. The King Eddy was that story and without NMC that important story would have been lost.
Considered the largest artifact in NMC’s collection of over 2,000 rare instruments, artifacts, sound equipment and Canadian music memorabilia, the restored King Eddy will be incorporated into the design of NMC’s new home at Studio Bell, and music will once again ring through the Eddy as a live music venue.
When Studio Bell opens in 2016 at the site of the historic blues club, it will continue to be sacred ground for music lovers. As the beating heart of Calgary’s music scene, it will be a hub for music fans of all stripes, much like the original Eddy was for so many people in Calgary and beyond.
Our Impact What We Do
Opening in 2016, the new NMC at Studio Bell will be more than just a museum. It will be like a music festival experience with sound, lights and activities pouring out of 22 individual exhibition galleries (or what we like to call ‘exhibition stages.’). Exhibitions will highlight everything from personal stories that unite music lovers across the country to historical moments and achievements to people and inventions that have helped shape music in Canada.We also offer live performances through our 300-seat performance space, curriculum-based education programs, and opportunities for artists to incubate new music through our Artist in Residence program.
Our Mission | The National Music Centre gives Canada a place that amplifies the love, sharing and understanding of music.
Our Vision | The National Music Centre is a national catalyst for discovery, innovation and renewal through music.
Our History | Construction began on the National Music Centre’s new home, Studio Bell, in 2013. Studio Bell will be a 160,000 square-foot, architecturally stunning destination in the heart of Calgary’s East Village. With interactive education programming, artist incubation, engaging exhibitions and performances daily, NMC’s new space will showcase the expanded collection, which, today, includes over 2,000 rare instruments and artifacts, along with the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame Collections.
Our Accomplishments | NMC’s education programs have won multiple awards, including the 2015 Lighthouse Award from the Calgary Board of Education (CBE). The Lighthouse Award recognizes an organization’s contributions to CBE students, teachers and schools.
Our Programs How We Do It
Programming at NMC is innovative, diverse, inclusive, and collaborative. NMC reaches music lovers through programs and exhibitions, including a wide demographic of people from elementary school children to professional musicians. Providing the community with programming that celebrates the power of music for over a decade, NMC is a champion for music in Calgary, Canada and beyond.
- NMC currently hosts over 200 community events and live musical performances, which will be expanded in our new facility.
- Over 10,000 students and youth experience our curriculum-based education programs—be it through outreach in schools, through school tours or after-school programs at NMC, such as Guitar Club.
- Through our Artist in Residence program, musicians from around the world explore and use our collection in the creation of new works.
“My class visited the National Music Centre. I learned about throat singing…we got to dance and try throat singing. This was very cool because it is my grandma’s culture. She is Inuit. I am in piano lessons now because I liked all the instruments and the way they sounded and I wanted to play my own instrument.” – Reese, Grade 2 student
“Guitar club means a lot to me, because jamming with many different people and learning and incorporating their styles has helped me a lot in finding my own sound. I've learned that there are many musicians just like me who I can learn a thing or two from, and vice versa.” – Kiran, Guitar Club student
“I am a member of NMC’s Guitar Club and have been involved for almost three years. I first started going to Guitar Club, because I was sleeping outside and it was a safe and warm place for me to go with supportive people… I have learned many things at Guitar Club. When I first started I couldn’t play. When I listen to guitar tracks now, I can figure out the guitar parts on my own. I feel way more confident, and am able to speak to people. I also feel less anxious and depressed. – Trizia, Guitar Club student in Grade 12
Artist in Residence Testimonials
“Trying out some of these keyboards is sending me to a different kind of musical space.” – Kid Koala, musician and past NMC Artist in Residence
“Whatever I happen to sit down at ends up being the most inspiring instrument I’ve ever played.” – Nik Kozub of Shout Out Out Out Out, musician and past NMC Artist in Residence
“The instrument collection at NMC is a significant resource for Canada, and for musicians and the public in general. The Artist in Residence program is a fundamental part of it being a living collection.” – Gotye, musician and past NMC Artist in Residence
Our Requests What You Can Do
“The National Music Centre is the long-awaited home for music in Canada. Canadians have contributed so much to music globally—there is a legacy that deserves to be celebrated.”
— Jim Cuddy, Blue Rodeo
The National Music Centre is the only national cultural institution that is preserving Canada’s music story.
NMC’s vision is to become a national catalyst for discovery, innovation, and renewal through music. To realize this vision, we are building a home for music in Canada that will resonate with expanded programming, including education, performance, artist incubation, and exhibitions.
- NMC will inspire and promote homegrown talent, nurture the creation of new music from local, national and international artists, and become a landmark for Calgary, and a place of pride for all Canadians.
- Play your part and support the National Music Centre. Help ensure that Canada’s musical legacy will live on for generations to come.
Together, we can give our country’s music a place to call home.