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Utah Artifacts & Art Center


The second building in our state was a performance hall dedicated in 1853. Utah is first in the country for participation in the performing arts. And we have the proud distinction of also being the first to institute an arts agency, with the formation of the Utah Arts Council in 1899. Equally auspicious, in 1897, even before the Utah Arts Council was formed, a group of public-spirited Utahns organized the Utah State Historical Society, known today as the Utah Division of State History.

Together, Utah’s history and art collections have more than 32,000 objects each offering insights into understanding and celebrating Utah’s people, places, and cultures.

Yet, despite these riches, Utah is one of just two states that lack a comprehensive state history or heritage collections management facility in which to preserve, curate, and share our state treasures.

The collections held in trust by the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts are a treasure trove of manuscripts, rare books, historical artifacts, photographs, paintings, sculpture, and folk art.

For nearly four decades, the agency’s collections have been warehoused in the basement of the Rio Grande Depot and Art Haus with physical and environmental conditions that limit the ability of an entire generation of state employees to properly collect, preserve, and share the collections. Consequently, the public has not had the opportunity to benefit from them. Collections in both buildings face daily threats because of inadequate environmental controls, deteriorated building systems, and destructive natural processes.

In collaboration with state and community partners, Heritage & Arts has a solution that builds on the growing opportunities of the Rio Grande neighborhood in downtown Salt Lake City.

Learn more at >

Pictured Above: Utah’s First State Flag

Zions Bank earns national recognition for supporting Utah arts, grant by grant by grant

Zions Bank's CEO Scott Anderson receives the BCA 10 award.Utah’s arts groups are offering a standing ovation to Zions Bank, which received a prestigious national award at a New York City ceremony on Oct. 2. The Utah company has been named to the Americans for the Arts’ BCA 10 list, celebrating the country’s ten best businesses partnering with the arts.

The bank was the only Utah company named to this year’s list, which also includes Kentucky’s Churchill Downs and Texas’ Phillips 66. In 2017, Zions made grants to more than 60 different arts and cultural organizations, while the company also curates a collection of more than 4,000 works, which are exhibited at branches and corporate offices. Zions was also named to the national list in 2008.

To mark the national recognition, we’re highlighting stories that underscore the range of Utah cultural programs receiving grant funding from Zions Bank and the Utah Division of Arts & Museums.

A person dressed as a stormtrooper for the Cache Valley Center for the Arts performance of "One Man Star Wars Trilogy"


“There should be a work of art in every home. Or Death Star. Or escape pod,” says Wendi Hassan, executive director of the Cache Valley Center for the Arts, describing a photograph of a cosplaying Stormtrooper viewing paintings at Logan’s Artist’s Gallery, located just north of the Ellen Eccles Theatre.

Sponsors help the nonprofit agency present touring shows that wouldn’t otherwise perform in Logan, such as the 2017 performance by Charlie Ross of his “One Man Star Wars Trilogy,” Hassan says.

Science camp students examine minerals, bugs and shells as part of the Natural History Museum of Utah's Traveling Treasures exhibit in Springville.NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM OF UTAH

“Our wonderful 20-year partnership with Zions Bank has allowed the Natural History Museum of Utah to bring a compelling, object-rich exhibit to the heart of a different Utah community 11 times each year,” says Ann Hannibal, the museum’s associate director for community relations, of the Traveling Treasures exhibit. This year’s exhibit focused on “Nature’s Ultimate Machines,” and included a series of Science Camp events, which also included examinations of minerals, bugs, shells and dinosaur fossils.

The exhibit demonstrates the range of cultural projects Zions’ Bank funding supports. “It’s a great program,” Hannibal says. “It’s kids in in a bank, learning about how natural systems work. Looking at the mechanisms of everyday life — levers, wind turbines, pumps, even Velcro —  and discovering that nature built them first.”

Opera by Children students perform in a show they helped write. Mentors from Logan's Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre help classrooms throughout Utah create their own shows.UTAH FESTIVAL OPERA & MUSICAL THEATRE

No matter how many years have passed, former cast members of Opera by Children productions are likely to still remember the songs. “Teachers tell us their former students say: ‘The best thing I ever did in your class, my favorite school memory, is that opera we did,’” says Pamela Gee, the program’s director. “They always sing the songs from their opera to us. A song lives in your memory forever, especially if you created it.”

Now in its 22nd year, Opera by Children is an educational program of Logan’s Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre that has reached more than 98,000 students. Mentors work with teachers throughout the state to help students write their own production, and along the way to a performance, create a creative community in their classroom.

“The memory of doing an opera — or anything in the arts — lasts longer then just about anything else,” Gee says. “Opera’s great because it has everything.”

Art lovers watch the creative process as artists create works in Park City Summit Arts Council's second annual Monster Drawing Rally. PARK CITY SUMMIT COUNTY ARTS COUNCIL

The fun-loving title of the Monster Drawing Rally underscores what sets apart the annual event: It’s designed to break down barriers between artists and art lovers.

At the rally, artists are invited to create a new work in 50 minutes. And then art lovers have the chance to buy pieces for $50 in a live auction.

“It’s an event that breaks down barriers, as it makes art collecting more accessible,” says Jocelyn Scudder, director of programs and engagement for the Park City Summit Country Arts Council. “We’ve had a lot of people start their art collections at the Monster Drawing Rally, while the event offers a platform for emerging and established artists,” says Jocelyn Scudder, director of programs and engagement.

Two Unique Photographers Featured in New Alice Gallery Exhibition

A new exhibit at the Alice Gallery in Salt Lake City will highlight two artists taking unconventional approaches to photography.

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums presents On the Border of Realism September 14 through November 2, 2018, at the Alice Gallery. A Gallery Stroll artist reception will be held on October 19 from 6pm to 9pm. The Alice Gallery is located at the historic Glendinning Mansion at 617 East South Temple in Salt Lake City and is free and open to the public Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 4 pm.

On the Border of Realism features the artwork of Jan Andrews and Trent Alvey. These artists are inspired by capturing the transitory moments of everyday life, the movement of light, and the impressions these illuminated scenes leave on the senses. Both use photography as their medium, but use different subject matter for inspiration. Alvey photographs water mixing with paint in a paint tray, while Andrews photographs flowers through hazy greenhouse windows. Alvey watches the movement of grass, clouds, light, water — non-linear occurrences — that come into existence only for a moment because they are as transparent as any emotion or fleeting thought that passes through our mind every day.

“Water is the medium that is most important as it finds its way to low places,” Alvey said about the collection of work featured in this exhibit. This is her favorite way to observe, having no notion of what may occur or where or even the expectation that something will occur and if it does will she even notice.

Andrews said the visual arts, particularly photography, is dependent upon the movements of particles of light to illuminate the object or the scene which is then impressed upon the senses then conveyed and lodged for contemplation. In these photographs Andrews attempts to make visible the interior of a greenhouse and the almost indistinguishable plants as seen through the hazy glass windows in late afternoon.

“The images of the flowers inside are illuminated as merely imprints or shadows of their original shapes and colors,” Andrews said.

The Alice gallery hosts exhibitions by living Utah artists as well as works from the State of Utah Alice Merrill Horne Collection.The Rio & Alice Galleries were established as a free service to Utah artists and surrounding communities. These venues allow emerging artists, professional artists, and curators to collaborate in the process of exhibition-making as well as engage the community through thoughtful and innovative art-making and dialogue.

Utah Students Excel at National History Day Contest

Ten Utah middle- and high-school students placed among the top entries in the nation at the annual National History Day Competition at the University of Maryland, College Park. These exceptional young historians placed in the Top Ten in their categories among 3,000 competitors at the national meet held last week.

Utah’s top finishers:

Third Place: Kelsey Hagman, Brighton High School (Sandy): “The Kansas-Nebraska Act: Compromise Turned to Conflict,” Senior Individual Website.

Fourth Place: Caitlin Radovan, Thomas Edison Charter School South (Nibley): “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg: Fight for Gender Equality and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act,” Junior Individual Website.

Fourth Place: Andrew Smaellie and Thomas Varghese, The Waterford School (Sandy): “Steve Jobs vs. Apple: The Conflict and Compromise that Changed the Technology World,” Junior Group Website.

Eighth Place: Outstanding Junior State Entry: Zachary Jessop, Midvale Middle School (Salt Lake): “Each Life is Worth a World: Gil and Eleanor Kraus and the Rescue of Fifty Jewish Children from Nazi Germany,” Junior Individual Documentary.

Honorable Mention:

  • Jacob Simmons, Brighton High School (Sandy): “Rabin of Israel: A Story of War and Peace”
  • Kasper Nilsson, Waterford School (Sandy): “Conflict Over Civil Rights: The Compromise of the Birmingham Retailers”
  • Gracyn Killpack, Thomas Edison Charter School South (Logan): “Want Beer? It’s Not Here: The Conflict and Compromise of Prohibition in the United States”
  • Kallie Kunz and Allie Jorgensen, Lakeridge Junior High School (Orem): “Rocking the Civil Rights Movement: The Little Rock Nine”

National Museum of American History National History Day Exhibit Showcase
Faith Moua, Mountain Heights Academy (West Valley City), “The Secret War’s Secret: The U.S. Hmong Alliance”

National Museum of African-American History and Culture NHD Documentary Showcase:

  • Kasper Nilsson, Waterford School (Sandy): “Conflict Over Civil Rights: The Compromise of the Birmingham Retailers”
  • Lily Frame and Esme Smith, Waterford School (Sandy): “Women’s Suffrage in Utah: Conflict Between Federal Government, the LDS Church, and the State Government”

Forty-five Utah students competed at nationals. Their original historical research projects centered on the theme “Conflict and Compromise in History.” During the rigorous week of competition, the students toured the U.S. Capitol and met with Senator Mike Lee.

Utah’s National History Day program encourages students to delve into the past through historical research, critical thinking, and presentation. Students may choose a topic from local, national, or world history, ranging from politics and war to science, social history, and the arts. They then create museum-style exhibits, historical performances, original websites, documentary films, and research papers to showcase their work. Entries are judged in a series of competitions beginning at the local level and culminating in the national contest held each June.

“History Day is an exciting way to engage students and teachers in the study of historical issues, people and events,” said Wendy Rex-Atzet, state coordinator for the Utah History Day program. “This program truly makes history come to life for young people by offering the freedom to choose a meaningful topic, and then giving them the research and analytical tools they need to discover the past on their own.”

Utah History Day is the state’s official National History Day affiliate. Formerly called Utah History Fair, this program has operated continuously in Utah since 1980. The program was originally developed and housed at Utah State University. In 2014 it was transferred to the Utah Division of State History in Salt Lake City.

Utah Students Compete in Poetry Out Loud State Finals

Six students from throughout Utah competed Wednesday for an opportunity to qualify for the national Poetry Out Loud finals in Washington, D.C.

Rebecca Akec (pictured) of Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City won the competition. She will represent Utah on April 23, 24, and 25 in Washington, D.C. at the national finals of Poetry Out Loud.

Akec recited The World Is Too Much With Us by William Wordsworth, The River of Bees” by W.S. Merwin, and So This Is Nebraska by Ted Kooser.
Second place went to Rain Flower Tanner from the Waterford School.

The Utah Division of Arts & Museums presented the state finals for Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation competition sponsored by The Poetry Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. During the competition, students recited works selected from an anthology of nearly 600 classic and contemporary poems.

High schools around the state participated in Poetry Out Loud activities and competed in six region competitions held in Brigham City, Herriman, Ogden, Provo, St. George, and Salt Lake City. Region winners competing at the state level are:

  • Rebecca Akec, Judge Memorial Catholic High School, Salt Lake City
  • Lindsey Aune, Legacy Preparatory Academy, North Salt Lake
  • Emery Busk, Desert Hills Middle School, St. George
  • Maika Havili, American Fork High School, American Fork
  • Emma Tackett, Bear River High School, Brigham City
  • Rain Flower Tanner, The Waterford School, Sandy

The emcee for the evening was Johann Jacobs, Utah Arts Council chairperson. Utah Poet Laureate Paisley Rekdal read, as well.

Since 2006, five Utah winners have placed in the top 10 of the national finals of Poetry Out Loud. The 2018 finals will be held at George Washington University April 23-25. The semifinals and finals webcast live may be seen at

Poetry Out Loud encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance, and competition. Poetry Out Loud seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on trends in poetry recitation and performance. The program builds on the resurgence of poetry as an oral art form by inviting the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, the spoken word, and theater into the English classroom. Through Poetry Out Loud, students master public-speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.