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The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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UMFA’s Farewell Event, Long Live Arts, Enchants and Engages Participants

Christopher Ayers
Visitors watch a video about Asain arts at the UMFA on Sunday, Jan 17, 2016. Photo by Chris Ayers.

When I entered the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, I had my purse packed with notebooks and pens — I was ready for a long day of art. I was immediately consumed by the crowded lobby. I had to carefully maneuver my way through the masss of people. Food trucks sported lines of hungry patrons, and the café was bubbling with conversation. The area was diverse with people of all ages, but predominantly children. As a former nanny, the thought of so many children in a building full of fine, historic and ‘Please, Do Not Touch’ pieces of art terrified me. But as I headed up the stairs into the gallery space, I noticed something very profound. Many of these usually unruly young children were focused and quiet, fascinated and enchanted by the art.

The event featured a Bingo-style scavenger hunt that helped incentivize exploration throughout the exhibits. As a fan of European impressionism, I found myself circling back to these and other European styles, and I was amazed at how genuinely interested some of the kids were. In the upstairs gallery, I watched as people filtered in and out. Hundreds, even thousands, must have come through on Saturday alone.

Particularly engaging were the Egyptian artifacts, where interactive exhibits taught about the ancient process of mummification, and an area tucked behind the neoclassical pieces where museum-goers could draw, paint or collage their own art. The room was lit up with vibrant colors and expressive artworks, primarily made by children, a fact that astonished and inspired me. Their experience exploring the museum clearly made an impression.

Vistors do yoga at the UMFA on Sunday, Jan 17, 2016. Photo by Chris Ayers.
Vistors do yoga at the UMFA on Sunday, Jan 17, 2016. Photo by Chris Ayers.

I had noticed in the galleries that there were pieces missing here and there, replaced by little plaques reminding viewers of the museum’s imminent closure. Tours of the storage methods helped explain what happened to these pieces while the building undergoes renovation. Each individual piece will be carefully assessed, recorded and meticulously stored in specially-made packages. These pieces of art need to be kept safe from the sometimes harsh Utah climate, so the packing must be thorough.

There were several other fun activities going on at the museum: yoga, performances, films and a nostalgic retro-themed dance party. The activities continued into the next day. After browsing through the different activities throughout the museum, I ended the night at the dance party, dancing to ABBA and The Backstreet Boys.

My favorite part was the informative tour and the artwork itself, though the yoga and dance were refreshing and fun. It is a good thing the reopening is scheduled for next spring, because I am excited to go back and experience the magic all over again. Long Live Art!

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