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Long Live Art at the UMFA!

Thursday, May 5, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Long Live Art at the UMFA!

By: Jorge Rojas, Director of Education and Engagement, Utah Museum of Fine Arts


As you probably know, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) is temporarily closed while we install a state-of–the-art vapor barrier system and reinstall our galleries. All of us are eager for the first phase of construction to be completed by this summer, when the Museum’s auditorium and café are expected to reopen to the public. The rest of the Museum will reopen next year, with exciting new exhibitions of our European, Asian, African, American, regional, and modern and contemporary art collections. In the meantime, operating as a “museum without walls” is proving to be a great way for us to connect with, learn from, and collaborate with our community.


My job at the UMFA is to oversee education, community outreach, and adult programming. I can honestly say that the staff at the UMFA is as busy as we’ve ever been. We continue to host many adult and family programs, and our educators are still bringing great art experiences to K-12 students across our city and state. We’re launching new initiatives, too. One new public program for 2016, ARTLandish: Land Art, Landscape, and the Environment, offers monthly lectures, films, panel discussions, community meet-ups, and other events that investigate our complex relationship with the world around us. Big shout-out to the S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Foundation for sponsoring this series and to our community partners, the University of Utah J. Willard Marriot Library, the College of Fine Arts, and the Salt Lake City Public Library.


The UMFA’s award-winning statewide educational outreach efforts are in full force.

·         Our popular Third Saturdays for Families program continues to engage hundreds of participants in art-making every month at our temporary location in the Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts and Education Complex just a few doors down from the UMFA.

·         Evening for Educators Our teacher workshops are helping K-12 educators use visual art across their curricula.

·         Museum in the Classroom sends UMFA educators into K-12 schools throughout Utah with hands-on art education.

             ·      The Traveling Museum Project brings exhibitions of authentic art objects into schools and community centers statewide.

·         Our pARTners program, which typically brings every fourth-grader in the Salt Lake City School District to the Museum twice yearly, is now bringing art experiences directly to those students.



Logan Meyers, pARTners program coordinator, in action.


AP Art History Students at Spiral Jetty.

Annie Burbidge-Ream, Assistant Curator of Education | Public School School Programs and Statewide Outreach



Another new initiative that is helping plant seeds for deeper community involvement is ACME (Art. Community Museum. Education.), an outreach initiative dedicated to rethinking the public role of museums. ACME comprises two parts: the ACME Lab, a physical space for art experimentation that we’ll launch when the Museum reopens; and ACME Sessions, a series of roundtable public dialogues we’re hosting right now in partnership with the Salt Lake City Public Library in which participants can imagine and articulate new models of education and engagement through art.


The ACME Lab will be a flexible state-of-the-art multimedia space housed in our Emma Eccles Jones Education Center where we’ll be able to host interactive exhibitions, performances, lectures, video calls with artists and field experts, and make-and-take art workshops. ACME Lab will address the Museum’s commitment to better serve our state’s diverse residents and will emphasize collaboration, experimentation, process-based learning, cross-disciplinary dialogue, and inquiry-based programming.


Our first ACME Session on March 9 raised the key question, “Museums: What Are They Good For?”. Nearly seventy community members representing diverse occupations, ages, and viewpoints attended. Directors from the UMFA, the Natural History Museum of Utah, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Leonardo shared insights about their museum’s efforts to be more inclusive. (Photo: Alex Hesse, Executive Director of The Leonardo at ACME Session I.)


Our next ACME Session “What's Hip-Hop Got to Do with Education?” will examine hip-hop as a force for teaching and learning at the Glendale Branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library, on Wednesday, May 11, at 7pm. This session will be a participatory, multigenerational dialogue featuring short presentations and performances from local artists and educators. We hope you’ll come be part of the conversation! All ACME Sessions are free and open to the public.


We miss our hundreds of daily visitors, and we’d love to stay connected with you during this exciting year of change. Please visit our website for program and event details and sign up for our e-mail newsletter to receive monthly updates, event information, and news.


The UMFA is your fine arts museum. We look forward to connecting with you at many of our many upcoming events throughout the year! Long Live Art!


Jorge Rojas oversees education, community engagement, and adult programming for the UMFA. He is the ACME Initiative coordinator and supervises all aspects of the program. Respected as a dynamic and innovative artist and community leader, Rojas joined the UMFA in January 2015, having previously served as site director for the Venture Humanities Course at Westminster College, where he promoted continuing education among immigrant, refugee, and under-represented populations. Additionally, he teaches art history to low-income minority students at East High through the Clemente Humanities Course, and was Teaching Artist-in-Residence at the Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. 



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