Wednesday night, I was invited to attend a sneak peak of Doors Open YYC.
If you haven’t heard of it, Doors Open is a great opportunity to do a bit of snooping through some interesting buildings and spaces in the city. A bit of a behind the scenes look, if you will.
The event takes place on September 24, and during the day, a number of buildings in Calgary will open their doors free of charge, to the public. From history and architecture, to environment, to sports or engineering, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain an insider’s view into what makes our city tick.
The goal of Doors Open is to create enthusiasm about Calgary’s heritage and architecture, and to increase the public’s appreciation for historic or culturally significant places. You can read more about it on their website.
This year, there are 51 site visits which you can visit from 10 AM to 4PM, which range from fire halls, TV broadcasting stations, simulation centres, and bird sanctuaries. You can make a plan for your day by checking out the full range of visitation sites here.
On our sneak peak, we were taken to three sites: CJSW Radio, the Taylor Family Digital Library archives, and Voltage Garage.
At CJSW we toured around their broadcasting sites, and resisted the urge to play with the radio buttons.
A wall of old bus ads welcomes you as you enter the space, and then almost immediately you’re faced with their massive music collection.
Scrolling through the archives, we pulled out records, tapes, and discs, all categorised by genre and divided up alphabetically.
We even had the brief opportunity to stand in on a broadcast in progress, as the producer quickly transitioned between live introductions, music selection, and queuing of her playlist for the night.
Then, it was down the stairs of Mac hall and across the path to TFDL.
Having graduated from U of C in 2013, this walk brought back a few memories, mainly rushing through the snow to grab lunch and then running back into the law building as fast as possible. It was in my last year that TFDL opened, so I had really never had the chance to get into using it on a regular basis.
We walked past all the students, busy in their studies as fall terms have just begun, and entered into the Staff only area.
Through two doors, and into a climate controlled area, we finally found ourselves in the vault.
Stuffed with carefully curated treasures, such as a nickle collection, literary archives, and artefacts.
The library collection was one of my favourite parts – as we trailed through rows of leather bound collections, some dating back to the 15th or 16th centuries.
Each book was like a work of art, intricate in its bindings and decorative spines.
And some, were actually art themselves.
The rare collection included everything from artist’s comics to first edition classics.
Then, we made our way over to a few carefully selected treasures, usually tucked away for safekeeping.
The first, was a leaf from the Gutenberg bible – the first book produced using the printing press.
And the second, was a novel from 1495, worn from use and filled with doodles from its past readers (which comically reflected the fashion styles of that time).
Very carefully, I turned a page or two, letting out the dusty smell of the old book and the creak of the spine. In reality, it was quite a magical moment!
Among other treasures were a cap and gown, city plans, and a book made into the shape of a robot. But, I’ll keep some of those surprises for your visit.
Our final stop took us back to the city centre, at Voltage Garage in Marda Loop.
In the space of an old automotive garage, Voltage is a creative space for all things art. Featuring working stations for painters, featured collections, and spaces for photography.
Immersing ourselves in the creativity of it all, we admired the colours and had the chance to speak to a few of the artists that call this place home.
And by peering into their workstations, really starting to get into the mind of an artist.
Overall, it was great to see such different spaces, all working together to make Calgary a vibrant and cultural city. My favourite of the bunch was TFDL, but what I love about this event is that there is something for everyone.
So, with that being said, don’t forget to check the list and make a plan for this Saturday. It’s a once in a year opportunity!
And, if you do visit, be sure to use the hashtag #DOYYC so that I can follow along too.