UMFA to impose admission charge

For the first time, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will levy a $4 admission charge, beginning May 1.

“The money will go toward supporting the public programs and exhibitions at the museum,” said David Dee, UMFA director.

Previously, the museum has relied on a donation box in the lobby for upkeep and retention of various museum projects.

The new charges will be directed toward increasing staff levels, reinstalling galleries and providing guided tours, lectures, films, educational programming, cultural entertainment and traveling exhibitions to the public.

Dee also added, “We have three or four major educational outreach programs for students and families in the community, and it costs money to administer those programs…and provide other operational needs.”

UMFA has attracted several diverse exhibits to the U this year, including the current Santos exhibit, which consists of several devotional Roman Catholic images from the southwestern United States.

The fee will also help the museum extend its hours of operation by three hours, to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and to open an hour earlier, 11 a.m., on weekends.

However, the museum will be closed on Mondays to accommodate the new schedule.

Dee defended the decision to close the museum on Monday.

“Typically it’s the slowest day of the week…and keeping the doors open costs money. We’re currently open seven days a week and it’s important for us to stay open on weekends,” Dee said.

The museum will remain available on Mondays for community, U students and faculty to come on reserved class tours.

By holding off on Wednesday’s closure from 5 to 8 p.m., and by offering free admission to all patrons on the first Wednesday of each month, Dee hopes to accomplish a few goals.

The first is to accommodate for typical work schedules of the attending public. Some patrons found the old hours inconvenient.

A second goal is to transform Wednesday nights into an opportunity to put on special programs and attract the student population to the museum.

“From film series to jazz concerts, they’ll be great venues for dates,” Dee said.

Museum representatives also blamed the current economic climate for the new charges.

In past years, much of the museum’s funding has come from grants and donations, which means the money UMFA has received has varied from year to year.

“Last year, we received a $50,000 direct grant from the state of Utah to fund our education programs. This year we didn’t,” Dee said.

The new fee will not be required of U students, faculty, staff or those who have purchased a museum membership, which start at $40.

One other option remains for those deal-seekers out there.

For $23, patrons can obtain the Emigration Visitors District Exploration Pass, which provides free admission to six local attractions-Fort Douglas Military Museum, Red Butte Garden, Utah Museum of Natural History, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, This Is The Place Heritage Park and the Museum of Fine Arts-and a 25 percent discount at the Marriott University Park Hotel.

To purchase this pass, visit the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau at 90 S. West Temple or call 581-8970.

For a museum membership, visit the Utah Museum of Fine Arts during its current hours of operation, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

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