By Mindy Wilson, UMFA director of marketing and communications
The newly remodeled galleries at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts come back to life this weekend as the museum welcomes visitors once again.
Closed since mid-January 2016 for building upgrades and remodeling, the UMFA reopens to the public on Saturday, Aug. 26, for a two-day celebration featuring new exhibitions, talks, tours, art making, films, yoga, a dance party powered by ArtsPass and more. Admission is free.
The Reopening Party will showcase the museum’s reimagined permanent exhibition galleries and two new temporary shows. “HERE, HERE,” an interactive project by Las Hermanas Iglesias, debuts in the new ACME Lab, a flexible space for community engagement and artistic experimentation in the museum’s Emma Eccles Jones Education Center. World-renowned contemporary artist Spencer Finch’s new site-specific installation in the Great Hall inspires visitors to imagine a hike around the entire Great Salt Lake.
The museum has been closed temporarily for replacement of the building’s vapor barrier, essential for efficiently maintaining appropriate humidity levels to protect the works of art. During the 18-month closure, UMFA staff embarked on a journey to rediscover treasured objects and reimagine the galleries and the visitor experience, completing the most comprehensive reinstallation since the award-winning Marcia and John Price Museum Building opened in 2001.
The goal, said Executive Director Gretchen Dietrich, was to make the most of the museum’s dynamic art collection — unique in the state for its breadth and depth — and to deepen visitor engagement with the art on view.
“We’ve been thinking as much about people as we have about objects,” said Dietrich. “So many of the changes we’ve made are about connecting visitors of any age, ability and background in more meaningful ways with great art.”
Nearly half the objects on view will be new to visitors, arranged along fresh storylines against a vibrant new color palette. Along with new perspectives on European, Pacific, Mesoamerican and Ancient Mediterranean art, visitors will find new dedicated galleries for African and Asian objects, a prominent new first-floor location for American and regional works, more modern and contemporary art on view and more interactives.
Every word on every wall is new too, sharing the latest research with visitors and encouraging their own interpretations. Some texts have been translated into Spanish, part of the museum’s effort to create greater access for its increasingly diverse audiences. Three new conversation areas give visitors a place to recharge and learn more about the art. Extended hours, new wayfinding and a new website, which debuted earlier this month, are all part of the new UMFA experience.
Along with browsing what’s new, visitors this weekend can sign up for tours of specific galleries or collections storage in the museum basement, check out a family backpack for exploring with kids, make art, take in a dance or music performance, watch a film and cut loose at the Saturday night dance party. Janelle and Lisa Iglesias, the artists who created “HERE, HERE” for the ACME Lab, will host art-making activities and an “Opening Bash” piñata activity. See the complete schedule of activities and the weekend hours for The Museum Store and Museum Cafe here.