National Music Center accepts authenticity challenge

Andrew Mosker, President and CEO of the Calgary's National Music Center responded to a the Everyday Tourist blog about the great music museums of memphis and their authenticity. Specifically, he responded to the following paragraph:  

"In chatting with Andrew Mosker, CEO, National Music Centre (NMC), who is currently construction a new museum in Calgary, I was told they would be incorporating some of the lessons learned from STAX on how to engage, entertain and educate the public about music.  Yet, I couldn’t help but wonder if the NMC could match STAX museum’s authenticity as most of NMC’s artifacts will be imported from elsewhere. Also a big shiny new museum located in a glitzy new master planned urban community seems diametrically opposed to places that are the catalyst for artistic creativity. Time will tell."

Mosker writes:

Authenticity is a challenge for all organizations like ours, but I’m confident we will deliver authenticity in culture, space and public programming when the new National Music Centre opens in 2016. 

STAX — along with many other famed music venues and museums — helped to inspire NMC. I find it inspiring that STAX uses its history, influence and the social demographics of the neighbourhood to support education, cultural tourism and economic growth in the area.

A 1560 AD Virginal from the National Music Centre's collection. Virginals are from the harpsichord family and were popular in Europe  the late Renaissance early Baroque period. (photo credit: National Music Centre) 

There’s no question that it is difficult to compare the authenticity of Memphis and the broader social realities of the American south, and their respective impact on the development on American popular music to a Calgary or even Canadian experience.

I would argue however, that when I first socialized the idea of creating a National Music Centre on the site of the King Eddy hotel in East Village, which was before Calgarians believed that executing a master plan was even possible, the response was that it was not a safe place to go. The combination of low-cost housing, homelessness, and criminal activity meant that Calgarians were very skeptical of the idea that the East Village could evolve in a meaningful way.  

My view was that given the King Eddy’s music history and authenticity, that this was the perfect site for NMC given our vision be a catalyst through music and to celebrate the contributions that music has made and continues to make in Canada by offering a wide range of public, artist and education programs. The King Eddy is an artifact that we want to preserve and share, and hopefully the programming inside of it will deliver an authentic experience to audiences.

Yes, the East Village expansive development may reduce some of the original grit and authenticity of the area, but I believe that this can be mitigated by the quality of NMC’s public programming, investment in community building and more awareness and development of our regional music industry.

Thank you for the excellent blog posts and for the chance to offer my two cents.

You can read the entire Everyday Tourist blog at: Music Museums of Memphis / International Blues Challenge

Rendering of National Music Centre's bold design at night. (photo credit: Allied Works Architecture)

Rendering of the dramatic design of the National Music Centre during the day. (photo credit: Allied Works Architecture)

National Music Centre has one of the largest keyboard instrument collections in the world; this is Elton's John piano. (photo credit: National Music Centre).

 A sample of the diversity of keyboard instruments in the National Music Centre's collection. (photo credit: National Music Centre)

East Village Transformation

East Village's King Eddy Hotel would not have been out of place in Memphis or Clarksdale. Iconic bluesman played at the Eddy for decades until its closure in 2004.  The building's bricks and footprint will be incorporated into the new National Music Centre. 

East Village one of Calgary's oldest communities, is just 14 blocks, many of which were just surface parking lots, before the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC) developed a master plan in 2007.  Since then the City of Calgary via CMLC has invested $160M to upgrade the roads, sidewalk, sewers, as well as create new public spaces like Riverwalk, St. Patricks Island pedestrian bridge and island redevelopment.  All levels of government, as well as the public and private sector have contributed to the development of a new iconic Central Library and the National Music Centre both under construction. 


The private sector has or is in the process of investing over $5B in new residential, office, retail and hotel that will create a vibrant urban village for Calgarians of all ages and backgrounds.  To appreciate the scope of the East Village transformation from a community dominated by three homeless shelters and several affordable seniors apartments into a mixed-use 21st century urban village click here to view Calgary's RKVisualization video:

Before the mega makeover of East Village began, the neighbourhood was very seedy with homeless, drug addicts and prostitutes. 

Even the once proud King Eddy Hotel was no longer the Home of the Blues by the 21st century. 

Andrew Mosker

Andrew Mosker is the President and CEO of the National Music Centre (NMC) in Calgary. He has a B.A. in History from Concordia, a Diploma in Contemporary Jazz Performance (piano) from Grant MacEwan College and a Masters of Musicology from the University of Calgary. A native Montrealer, Andrew came to Alberta as an aspiring musician and now as the President and CEO of NMC, he is creating a home for music in Canada through the National Music Centre building project in Calgary’s East Village. Learn more at

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