MAKICHUK: I have a dream, and it's totally do-able

Calgary's Calatrava bridge.
Calgary's Calatrava bridge.Handout

A young Martin Luther King stood on the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, while an estimated 250,000 people packed the reflecting pool.

There, on August 28 1963 he gave his famous "I have a dream" speech — a masterpiece that called for civil and economic rights and an end to racism in the US.

Well folks, I too have a dream and it is a doozy.

First off, here's my beef.

Tourists come to Calgary, they get on a bus or rent a car and go to Banff and the Rockies. Few, if any, stop in Calgary.

While we do have some cool things to see, such as The Glenbow, the Calgary Zoo and Heritage Park, the Calatrava Bridge, as well as several military museums and scenic bike paths, we don't really have a big draw.

Other than the 10-day Calgary Stampede, of course. The greatest outdoor show on earth, as we say, but after that, it is pretty much dead as Julius Caesar.

We have music and cultural events too, and Studio Bell, but again, nothing really huge. Nobody is going to fly to Calgary to take in a cultural festival

They go to Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, possibly even the Badlands. Many tourists don't even know about the Blackfoot Crossing Interpretive Centre, which is just a short drive east of Calgary.

A friend of mine and his daughter from LA, actually did do a stopover in Calgary, touring our downtown, before hitting Highway 1 west.

To my embarassment, they were shocked by the dodgy characters and open drug dealing on the mall and how the Calgary Police Service didn't seem to care.

But let's leave that issue for a different day.

Now, I don't want to take away from the Hangar Flight Museum's planned $60 million project to build a new facility. The financing for that project will launch in earnest in 2024.

And, it has a good chance of happening. It really does.

However, as I said, I too have a dream and it is this.

What if Calgary built a massive, Louvre type, glass covered three pronged 'super museum.'

Each prong, would house a specialty; one leg could house our aviation history, another leg could house the army/navy museums and the third prong could house the Glenbow.

The latter's downtown location could be sold off, to raise money for the new facility, which could be named, the Lougheed Museum of Calgary.

It could also have high ceilings, covered in glass, where things could be hung from above.

I envision a classy place, similar to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, where they actually levelled a mountain and spent US$1.3 billion to build a world-class art museum.

It even has a monorail that takes you from the parking lot below, to the museum up top and back.

I spent a day there once, which wasn't enough, ending up in the amazing cafeteria that overlooked LA.

I have been to fabulous museums in my life — the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay in Paris, the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the Churchill War Rooms in London, the Museum of Flight in Seattle, the Crazy Horse memorial and visitor centre in the Black Hills, the Getty and the Nixon Library in LA, the Egyptian Museum in Cairo and the Acropolis Museum in Athens — and they all have one thing in common.

It's about compelling exhibitions and great storytelling, for sure, but it also has to do with why do we seek, wonder and marvel at things beyond ourselves.

It has to do with universally perplexing nature of what the museum has to offer as well. Who would not want to see a facility that had all three of these fabulous topics under one roof, for one fee.

And, we have a story to tell that is very unique.

To some folks, it can often seem that such institutions are merely places where forgotten objects go to enjoy their final years.

But the power of museums are more relevant today than they've ever been.

Museums help us learn from the past, they bring communities together, they stand firm in the face of adversity and serve as hubs for innovation and interaction.

And most importantly, they educate future generations.

How much would it cost? I would estimate between $100 and $150 million, and it would include a high-end food court in the central atrium, along with a souvenir store or two.

Much like we see in airport concourses.

And yes, that is a lot of money, but a drop in the proverbial bucket when you compare it to Calgary's ambitious Green Line project, which has been estimated to cost upwards of $20 billion when it's finally completed in 2027.

The biggest project in Calgary history and one that remains mired in controversy.

While one city group has asked for a time out, to re-look at the project to improve it and possibly save some money, Calgary's city council firmly has its blinders on, refusing to listen to the populace.

Worst mayor, worst council at a critical time in our city's history. A perfect storm of municipal incompetence.

And the $20B estimate does not include possible cost overruns for a tunnel under the Bow River, which experts say offers rare engineering challenges.

In other words, a multi-dimensional museum is do-able. It just requires the will and the way. And the funds too, of course.

I mean, if we can afford to build $20 to $25 million cloverleafs all over this city and hand out millions to rich Calgary Flames owners, surely we could afford a project of this size.

Something to cause tourists to stop in our town and maybe spend a few dollars here. Get to know us and like us.

We're really not that bad. Well, most of us.

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