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With Doors Closed, UMFA Still Delivers

March 09, 2016

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As we prepared to temporarily close the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) this year, to upgrade our vapor barrier and reinstall our galleries, we heard one question over and over: But what will the staff do?

The answer: Find ways to fulfill our mission even with the doors closed. Handed a challenge and a gift -- one year to reimagine the UMFA -- our staff of hard-working, passionate arts professionals hasn't wasted a minute.

First we threw a two-day going-away party in January that filled both floors of the Marcia and John Price Museum Building with thousands of people. 

long live art dance party

long live art party gallery visitors

Then we rolled up our sleeves and began chipping away at our ambitious to-do lists. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how we're keeping the fires hot under three of our biggest goals:

Protecting the art.

That's what this project is all about. Improving the vapor barrier will help us maintain the optimal humidity level for fine art. It will also ensure a long lifespan for the architecturally significant building that protects the nearly 20,000 objects in our collection.

Most of the art will be stored onsite. Last fall collections staff members began removing and packing the 200 or so objects on view—painstaking work, some of it tricky. Remember Moab I, the massive relief sculpture in our lobby? Its thirty-six stoneware tiles were carefully removed, individually photographed, assessed, recorded in our database, and then packed into specially made foam-lined wooden crates.

moab 1 de-installation in progress

moab 1 de-installation - all hands on deck

The process is much the same for every object -- which means all hands on deck.

umfa executive director gretchen dietrich helps deinstall robert smithson's leaning mirror

conservator robyn haynie leads art-handling training for staff and volunteers

jazmin gallegos - education and engagement intern - helps deinstall tony fehers site-specific installation they arrived yesterday dusty and weary from the journey but in good spirits

haynie uses a special hepa-filtered vacuum to perform routine cleaning on a painting removed from the european galleries

Keeping the community engaged. 

We’re still delivering great art experiences to our adult and family audiences. The UMFA’s ingenious and award-winning educators have figured out ways to make many programs portable. Our perennial favorite (and ZAP-funded!) Third Saturday for Families free art-making program is continuing every month, just a few doors down at the U’s Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex. Our pARTnersprogram, which has brought every fourth-grader in Salt Lake City public schools into  the UMFA twice each year for more than thirty years, is now being delivered directly to student classrooms. The Traveling Museum Project, Museum in the Classroom, and other outreach programs continue to bring hands-on art experiences to communities in every corner of the state. Our Spiral Jetty Family Backpacks can now be checked out (free!) at the Salt Lake City Public Library. 

logan meyers, partners coordinator, helped modify this vital program to bring an authentic museum experience directly to fourth-grade classrooms

students enjoy the museum experience in their own classroom

child takes in the spiral jetty with a umfa family backpack on his back

We’ve also kicked off two new programs.

  • ARTLandish: Land Art, Landscape, and the Environment is an exciting monthly series of talks, films, meet-ups, and more that explore our complex relationship with the world around us.
  • ACME Sessions, a partnership with The City Library, are bimonthly public roundtable discussions meant to inspire new models of education and community engagement through art. (We’re cooking up other exciting projects with The City Library. More on that soon!) We expect these conversations to generate ideas for an exciting new experimental space we’ll launch when the UMFA reopens, the ACME Lab.

Preparing brand new experiences for visitors in 2017.

The upside of watching the galleries empty is anticipating what they’ll look and feel like next year. Curators are busy planning our new European, American, regional, Asian, African, and modern and contemporary galleries, rediscovering treasures in our vast collection and rethinking how we present them. We’re remodeling other spaces, too, all with an eye toward making the Museum more accessible and welcoming to everyone. Not least among the many decisions to make: what colors to paint the walls. Goodbye, guava! 

preparator aaron hardy creates swatches for staff to consider in selecting the new wall color for the great hall

long live art gallery visitors saying see you later to the museum

That’s where we are, barely two months into this metamorphic year. Keep up, and enjoy more behind-the-scenes photos and stories, by signing up for our e-newsletter or following us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

-Mindy Wilson

Mindy Wilson is the PR & marketing director at the UMFA. She joined the Museum staff in January 2013 after relocating to Salt Lake City from Georgia, where she was managing editor of the award-winning literary journal The Georgia Review. A freelance editor and writer, she loves exploring her new home city, state, and region with her husband, writer Michael Mejia, and Atticus, their Jack Russell terrier.

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway with Ririe-Woodbury

March 08, 2016

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Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company Ticket Tuesday

A winner was chosen to receive 2 tickets to Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company's SPRING SEASON (April 7-9).  If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still make it to the performance. And keep entering our #ZAPTicketTuesday giveaways!

Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company is funded in part by a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks. 

Hale Centre Theatre Weekend Winner Giveaway

March 04, 2016

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pirate queen at hale centre theatre

Two #ZAPWeekendWinners have been chosen to receive four tickets to Hale Centre Theatre's Pirate Queen on March 15. Tickets to this performance are sold out but you can still purchase tickets  for late March. 

From Hale Centre Theatre: This is a regional premiere of Pirate Queen. Boublil and Schönberg - composers of the blockbuster Les Misérables - crafted this extraordinarily beautiful, new musical! A true 1558, England and Ireland are locked in a battle for Ireland's independence. Grace O'Malley - a strong Irish lass - fearlessly battles Queen Elizabeth's mammoth navy. Add splendid Celtic dancing, ships, swashbuckling swordplay, betrayal and glorious romance! HCT was hand-picked to mount this first, regional, post-Broadway production. 

Hale Centre Theatre is funded in part through a grant from the Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) Program. 

Stay tuned for more stories and giveaways from ZAP!

Murray City Cultural Arts and Repertory Dance Theatre ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway

February 23, 2016

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murray city cultural arts and rdt tickets

Two winners were chosen to receive 5 tickets each to Murray City Cultural Arts Presents CELEBRATE! RDT IN CONCERT on March 11 at 7:30 PM. If you didn't win this time, we hope you can still make it to the performance. And keep entering our #ZAPTicketTuesday giveaways!

Murray City Cultural Arts and Repertory Dance Theatre (RDT) are both funded in part by a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts and Parks. 

ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway for Discovery Gateway

February 16, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- Discovery Gateway

Winner has been announced for a free family pass to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum!

Discovery Gateway is funded in part through a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP).

Film Brings the Beehive State Together

February 11, 2016

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As I reflect on the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, I am still struck by a statement Robert Redford made during the opening day press conference on Thursday, January 21.  The idea he shared is that no matter how our society evolves and no matter how much technology alters our daily lives, there will always be a need to gather together to experience the communal experience of watching a film.  There is no substitute for going to the theatre.  That notion stuck with me through the whole 10 days as I witnessed that idea in action. 

Over the course of the Festival, I attended 15 screenings organized exclusively for students that reached more than 6,000 students and teachers. I handed out more than 600 free tickets for community groups to connect with the program.  I curated screenings that reached more than 2,300 local residents.  And in addition, I program year round screenings for Utah residents.  I get a front seat to witness the incredible power film has to spark dialogue and connect people. 

It goes without saying that I have a unique position with Sundance Institute and in my opinion, the best job there is.

I manage our free, Utah-based community and student outreach programs. From programming the outdoor Summer Film Series to organizing screenings just for students, I get to bring free programming to Utah residents. Let me give you a glimpse of why I love my job and how I get to connect the local community to independent film:

AWARD WINNERS: For many January 31 marks the official end of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. But this year, more than 5,000 local residents were treated to an extra day of fun with Festival award-winners screened just for locals at nine Best of Fest screenings in Salt Lake, Park City, Ogden, and Sundance Resort.  A few of the Best of Fest screenings this year were Birth of a Nation, Sonita, Morris From America and Life, Animated.

Best of Fest

JUST FOR STUDENTS: The best part of my job is overseeing the Sundance Institute · George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation Student Screening Program during the Festival. For the past 16 years, this program presents Sundance Film Festival films curated by Sundance Institute staff to introduce young audiences to independent film and engage them in stories from around the globe.  Following each screening, the filmmaker conducts a live discussion with the students and teachers surrounding the themes in the film. In 2000, ZAP funding provided the “seed money” to make this program a reality by offering 4 free film screenings to almost 700 students in Salt Lake. Sixteen years later the program has expanded to 15 screenings in Salt Lake, Park City and Ogden to an audience of over 6,000 students and teachers. Thank you ZAP for helping to start something great for Utah students by giving them the opportunity to engage with the Festival!

The 2016 program saw record breaking attendance as well as some truly special moments. Utah students were treated to free screenings of Sundance Kids selections: The Little Gangster and The Eagle Huntress; documentaries: Sonita, How to Let Go of the World, Life, Animated, Maya Angelou and Still I Rise, Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Wall, Richard Linklater - Dream Is Destiny; and experimental narratives from the NEXT and New Frontier categories: The Fits and Notes on Blindness. The program offered students a wide range of genres and subjects to introduce them to the art of independent film and storytelling.

While each screening is special and students ask questions that prove they are wise beyond their years, two screenings from the 2016 program stand-out: Sonita and Life, Animated.  On Monday, January 26, students were among the first audiences to watch the Grand Jury and Audience Award: World Cinema documentary – Sonita. The film tells the story of a young girl, Sonita, who is an undocumented refugee living in Iran. She has dreams of becoming a rapper but her family wants to sell her into marriage. Sonita herself and the film’s director were onsite for the film and Q&A. Students gave them film a standing ovation and were treated to a rap performance by Sonita. During the post-film discussion, students learned more about Sonita’s life and her work to end child marriage. At the student screening of Life, Animated, students learned about Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who learned to communicate through Disney animated movies. The entire Suskind family and the director – Academy Award winner Roger Ross Williams - attended the screening and participated in the Q&A. The young audience gave the film a rousing standing ovation which was followed by a moving discussion about the film and about autism. Many of the students have siblings or friends who are on the autism spectrum. The Suskind family was moved by how respectful and engaged the student audience was during the film and Q&A. It was a beautiful moment for Utah students.

Sundance- Sonita

CURATED SCREENINGS: We continually look for ways to draw groups closer to the program and one of my favorite parts of the job is programming films that explore an issue or topic that will resonate locally.  And this year I am pleased to say over 1200 Salt Lake residents turned out for free community screenings during the 2016 Film Festival! Local college students watched the documentary Author: The JT Leroy Story and the LGBT community enjoyed the narrative Viva. In addition to watching a Festival film for free, both groups were also able to engage in a dialogue with the directors of each film. The community outreach screenings continued through the week with another local college screening at the Tower Theatre where student watched one of the most buzzed films of the Festival – Swiss Army Man. Locals were treated to three additional screenings during the closing weekend: Under the Gun, a documentary that explores gun violence in America; How to Let Go of the World (And Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change), a documentary about climate change; and Hunt For the Wilderpeople a narrative from indigenous filmmaker Taika Waititi.

One memory that will stay with me is when almost 250 members of local environmental organizations danced with director Josh Fox during the credits of his film  How to Let Go of the World (And Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change) before they started the Q&A.

FREE COMMUNITY TICKETS: In addition to offering free screenings during the Festival, Sundance Institute’s Utah Community Programs also includes the Community Ticket Program. We set aside complimentary tickets for nonprofit organizations and special interest groups whose mission aligns with a theme or subject presented in a film. For the 2016 Festival, 484 tickets and ticket vouchers were given to 46 organizations in Salt Lake County. One of the most touching donations was to the Big Brothers Big Sisters group that planned to use the tickets for “bigs” to take the “littles” to the Sundance Kids screening of Snowtime!  It means a lot to provide an opportunity for adults and kids to experience the world-class Film Festival that takes place in their backyard, while assisting another organization to provide a special experience for a kid in need.  The program also has reach beyond Utah borders. The Utah Council for Citizen Diplomacy works with the US State Department to host visitors from around the world and showcase both Utah and democracy. The UCCD hosted a group of Indonesian visitors during the Festival and I had the pleasure of giving the group tickets to a screening of the documentary Gleason at the Grand Theatre. I hope the group enjoyed the film and the Sundance experience!

Sundane- Notes on Blindness

GOING ONCE, GOING TWICE, SOLD: Sundance Institute also gives local nonprofits ticket packages and passes to bolster their fundraising efforts by auctioning the packages at events and galas during the spring, summer, and fall months. 38 packages and passes were donated to Salt Lake organizations. The program is a special way to not only help fellow nonprofit organizations raise much needed funds but also for Sundance to reach a new audience. In addition, we were able to donate two tickets for a screening of Michael Jackson’s Journey From Motown to Off the Wall for ZAP’s #TicketTuesday!

I would be remiss for not thanking the community supporters who make Sundance Institute's Community Programs a reality: George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation; Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development; Salt Lake County Economic Development Department; Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP) Program; Utah Division of Arts & Museums and the National Endowment for the Arts; and Zions Bank. A big round of applause for their support in helping over 16,000 residents experience the Festival...for FREE!!

The 2016 Festival was a wild ride for local independent film fans. I am proud of the free programming the Institute presented to its home state as well as the incredible audiences we are able to work with. Programming community and student outreach for Utah is a labor of love. I hope that Utah had as much fun as I did. See you this summer for a screening under the stars!

- Kara Cody

Kara Cody is Sundance Institute's Senior Manager for Utah Community Programs. She hails from Yankton, SD  and studied political theory and philosophy at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC.  For the past four years, Kara has worked for Sundance Institute managing community and student outreach programs. She lives in Park City, UT with her husband, son, and Bernese Mountain Dog. When not watching films, Kara enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and live music. 

Inspiring Ideas into Action with Utah Humanities

February 02, 2016

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UHumanities 1

Where would we be without art, music, philosophy, & history?  All of these disciplines and more encompass the humanities, a great range of ideas that help us better understand different perspectives on what it means to be human. 

“Through technology we are now connected to the far reaches of the planet, but without the study of history, religion, languages, philosophy, and culture we will never understand those we reach.”  - Utah Humanities

Helping us to better understand each other, inspiring ideas and discussion that can be put into action, this is what Utah Humanities is all about.  Offering several programs from supporting community heritage to education access, they are also the state affiliate of the National Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.  The Center for the Book program promotes public interest in books, reading, authorship and libraries throughout the state of Utah. 

Orem Reads

Author Terry Tempest Williams engages audiences at the Orem Reads portion of the Utah Humanities 18th Annual Book Festival.

“The power of language and stories come to life in meaningful ways when members of our Utah community meet and talk with authors. These interactions and ideas can inspire people to explore new facets of their life and take action.”

This was just the case when a young teenager attended a recent celebration of children’s and young literature and was able to meet the authors. 

“His family is very poor and he took two buses and more than an hour to get to the event because he really wanted to meet the authors. After the panel, he told the authors how badly he wished to become a writer. They were so struck by his story that they bought him several of their books and then paid for him to attend the Teen Authors’ Boot Camp coming up in a few months. Elated, he left the event in tears.”

Keep Calm- Small


Recently the Utah Humanities staff reflected on their own reading from the past year.  Check out their book picks to see what ideas most inspired them! 

Utah Humanities Staff Book Picks:

The Most Important Books We Read in 2015

(...and how they influenced us)

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for."

- Socrates

Cynthia Buckingham, Executive DirectorThe Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt helped me get past the impasse in my own mind about talking politics with people whose political philosophies are very different from my own. Starting with the values we hold in common makes me a better listener and, I hope, more likely to engage in conversation rather than argument.

Jean Cheney, Associate Director:  Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is written as a long letter to his teenaged son to prepare him for the racist society we live in. Coates' book was hard to read and impossible to forget. It is full of fear, truth, and, ultimately, love. 

Jodi Graham, Grants and Outreach Program Officer: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. Do I see people for who they truly are, or do I see only my assumptions? Am I the same on the outside as I am on the inside? The author describes it in this way, "on the outside, she's covered in quills...on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary--and terribly elegant."

Jamie Gregersen, Finance and Office Manager: Breaking Night by Liz Murray. This heartbreaking story serves as a reminder to exercise compassion, and leaves me in awe of the resiliency some people have through what seem like insurmountable circumstances. It's an inspiring illustration of amazing tenacity.

UHumanities Staff

Fuzzy Utah Humanities staff "selfie" shows the lighter side of humanities work

Justin Howland, Administrative Assistant: Dream Work by Mary Oliver. With her committed attentiveness to moments of isolation--turning the act of observation into the quiet observance of the connective tissue holding together the larger organism of our lives--Mary Oliver invites us to cultivate a compassionate engagement with the world around us.

Michael McLane, Literature Program Officer: Voices of Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich is not for the faint-hearted. It is a brutal tour of both gross negligence on a governmental level and of human adaptability in impossible situations. I chose it not only because of her recent, and much-deserved, Nobel Prize, but also because here she inverts what won her the award in the first place--this is a book of listening, a place where her voice is supplanted by a chorus of Ukranian and Belarusian voices.

Deena Pyle, Communications Director: Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke, originally published in 1953, is both a sci-fi masterpiece and a timeless fable. This classic novel speculates about the ultimate destiny of mankind and quickly became my most important book of the year for begging some very deep existential questions--all within a sobering, poignant, sometimes shocking, and ultimately bittersweet narrative.

Megan van Frank, History and Museums Program Officer: The Hare With Amber Eyes, a memoir by Edmund de Waal, delves into the secret lives of 264 Japanese netsuke as they are passed hand-to-hand through generations of the author's family--through war and upheaval--to show how objects can carry stories, evoke place, and embody memory.

Cristi Wetterberg, Development Specialist: You Learn by Living by Eleanor Roosevelt whose straightforward and timeless book offers readers what she learned through living. This book strengthened some of my own beliefs, educated me on others I hadn't thought about or practiced before, and gave me the encouragement to continue to learn new things, meet and understand new people, and to seek out new ideas.


Visit Utah to learn more about their programs and latest news.  And feel free to share the most important book you read recently (and its influence on YOU) with us in the comments! 

Compiled by Michelle Ludema, book and humanities lover, as well as Communications Intern at Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks, in collaboration with Deena Pyle, Communications Director at Utah Humanities. 


ZAP Ticket Tuesday Giveaway with Tanner Humanities

February 02, 2016

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Ticket Tuesday- Tanner Humanities Center

Winners have been announced for 2 pairs of tickets to the National Theatre Live broadcast of JANE EYRE, presented by Tanner Humanities Center.

Tanner Humanities Center is funded in part through a grant from Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks (ZAP).  

Funding Support for your Creative Placemaking Project

December 22, 2015

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ArtPlace - Join us in Park City or Salt Lake

Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks is teaming up with Utah Division of Arts & Museums to welcome ArtPlace America to Utah!

ArtPlace America is a 10-year collaboration among 15 foundations, eight federal agencies, and six financial institutions who are dedicated to positioning art and culture as a core sector of comprehensive community planning and development in order to help strengthen the social, physical, and economic fabric or communities.

ArtPlace's program offers $50,000 to $500,000 to support place-based planning and development projects strengthening communities through arts and culture.

Since 2011, ArtPlace has invested $66.875 million, to 227 projects across 152 communities of all sizes within 43 states and the District of Columbia.   

ArtPlace is specifically looking for successful Utah applications.

We urge you to attend on of two informational sessions on their National Creative Placemaking Fund: 

  • January 19 | 10 AM to 12 PM | Summit County Library, Richins Building, Room 133 (Lower Level) | 1885 W. Ute Blvd., Park City, UT 84098
  • January 20 | 12 PM to 2 PM | Viridian Event Center, 8030 S. 1825 W., West Jordan, UT 84088 (A light lunch will be served)

Topics include:

  • What is creative placemaking?
  • What makes a competitive application?
  • What does the application process entail?
  • A discussion on how the arts have been used to "move the needle" to address relevant and challenging community issues.

Who should attend?

The event is free and open to the public! Anyone and everyone interested in learning about how you can be supported to creatively make change in your community! Artists, arts organizations, designers, community developers, planners, city and town administrators, community residents, business owners, faith and religious groups, philanthropists, and more are invited to learn more about arts-based strategies to community development. The National Creative Placemaking Fund will fund anyone regardless of tax-exempt status. 

Consider these questions:

  • Where will you work to address this community-based challenge or opportunity?
  • Has the community identified a planning and development challenge or opportunity it wants to address?
  • What role can arts and culture play in strengthening communities?
  • Who sits at "the table" when planning and development decisions are being made?

These and other questions will be addressed at the workshop. We hope you'll join us.

Please RSVP by filling out this form by January 15.

This Holiday Season Gift the Arts!

December 01, 2015

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2015 Holiday Markets

It’s that time of year again! The lights are up, the snow is falling (well, some days), and we’re busy seeking out fun ways to enjoy the holiday season as well as searching for perfect gifts for family and friends. 

As you go about your holiday shopping this year, consider gifting the arts! Tickets to a concert or performance by a favorite theater company can provide a lifelong experience to remember, and handmade arts and crafts bring daily inspiration. Not to mention it’s always fun to meet the artists that created them! You can do just that at one of the many holiday markets being hosted this December that showcase unique gifts made by local artists and crafters. 

To help you plan your market-hopping experience and support our creative community this holiday season, we’ve compiled a quick list of some of the many arts & craft markets taking place around the valley. If we missed a favorite of yours, please feel welcome to share it in the comments.

Happy Gifting! 

December 3-5

December 4

December 5

December 5-6

December 5-6 & 12-13

Dec 5 & 12 10am-6pm

Dec 5 & 19 10am-2pm

Dec 5-21

Dec 12