CALGARY -- A new exhibition opens at the Glenbow Saturday, showcasing images of Calgarians taken during the peak of the pandemic, in socially-distant family portrait sessions.

Porchtraits: Calgary Families in Isolation during COVID-19 is co-curated by Glenbow and local photographer Neil Zeller.

"Nothing else that I've done has taken me to all corners of the city to meet all these different people," said Zeller. "Everybody that invited me to their homes are looking for the good, they're looking for a way to pass some time in a more positive way. For me it's just been an incredible uplifting way to spend during this while."

The exhibition features just under 10 per cent of the more than 650 families Zeller photographed during the pandemic lockdown.

"You will relate, you will find a photo that speaks to you it might it might feel like a moment that you were in that you can call back to and hopefully share that positivity that came from it."

Zeller used a telephoto lens so he could stand 10 to 50 feet away from the families. The cost was by donation.

"This created a life boat for us that gave us the ability to make a little bit extra money or some money to be able to pay our bills during this tough time."

This is the first new exhibition at Glenbow, since the museum re-opened on Aug. 1, after being closed for almost five months.

"We thought this was the perfect fit for us right now because it reflects really, a moment in our very recent history that I think resonates with all Calgarians," said Melanie Kjorlien, Glenbow COO and vice president of engagement. "When you look at these images in this exhibition you see that resiliency of people, you see that kindred spirit, you see people really coming together as families and as friends and I think it's just a really beautiful exhibition for us to look back and reflect on."

The museum hopes the exhibition draws in the local crowd. Kjorlien said it reflects the diversity of the city.

"Recognizing that family can mean a lot of different things to different people, diversity of life moments that were happening for people during that lockdown. You have things like milestone anniversaries or birthdays and you also see a diversity of lived experience how some people, maybe it was a little bit more difficult for them there's some sadness there, but then you also see people really being cheeky and trying to find the best in a really tough situation," said Kjorlien.


The museum is currently open weekends from noon to 5 p.m. The museum will also be open on Labour Day, Monday Sept. 7.

Tickets need to be pre-booked online.