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News & Press: President's Message

Can't Help Falling in Love

Monday, August 13, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ryan Paul
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In the last eight years of his career, Elvis Presley had given up movies for live concert performances. He criss-crossed the country selling out Vegas hotels along with stadiums and arenas. At the end of each show he chose to perform a song that has become a classic, “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” This came from a number he had done in the film Blue Hawaii and seemed to strike a chord with audiences. After the final notes the band would play and he would leave the stage, followed by Elvis’ long time announcer Al Dvorin, saying his famous line “Elvis has left the building. Thank you and goodnight.”

Although I am a little overweight, as Elvis was in his last years that is where the physical comparison ends. However, like Elvis, I am beginning the words of my own closing song. It has been nearly two years since I became the President of the Utah Museums Association, and in October I will step aside and Jayceen Craven-Walker will lead the organization to what I believe will be new heights. During my tenure, we upgraded the website, streamlined our conference process, and introduced new bylaws that will allow our organization to move forward in an unencumbered manner.

The board of the Utah Museums Association has been a constant advocate for our membership throughout the state. I wish that you could see how much the people I work with in this organization care about the conditions of our museums and, what I believe is more important, the people who run them. After all, without you, all of this would be for naught, and our great state would become a cultural wasteland.

Frontier Homestead State Park, my museum, is located right next to the Cedar City Cemetery and I often spend some time walking through that amazing space thinking about the stories of those who are interred there. I walk down tree-lined paths flanked on both sides by pioneer headstones, hand carved names and dates on their surface. What I have come to realize is how in some ways, this experience is unsatisfactory. I want to know more than birth and death. The most relevant part to me is the dash, the space in between the numbers. That is where the story is, and to be completely frank, I have never been good with numbers.

Friends, our museums, the stories we tell, are the “dash” of our state. We, along with a variety of other arts and cultural institutions define what “Utah” really is. Our history, our heritage, our culture, our STORY proves our humanity. These things shape who we are as a people and makes our state attractive to others and incidentally, increases the financial bottom line. One message we have struggled to communicate is how much money our institutions actually contribute to local economies. I would highly recommend that you spend some time tracing the dollars that flow through your institution, and I think you might be surprised how great of an impact you have. See, money and culture, Utah’s museums really provide it all.

Finally, two years ago I made a commitment to visit all the museums in the state. I am sorry to say I have not made it to all of you and I hope you will allow me to continue my visits until I reach my goal. You will still have me around, as I will serve as Past-President for a while. We have some big things on the horizon, and while it may seem challenging at times, I am extremely hopeful that all will be well. Our organization has phenomenal membership and we continue to bring in more every day.  Our membership and our board are an inspiring lot, and I would encourage you to get involved and prove how important the “dash” really is. By the way, if you have not seen “Blue Hawaii” recently, it is worth a viewing, especially when Elvis sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

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