BYU attracts Smithsonian Western art exhibition

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    By Joy Simmons

    The Lure of the West comes to the Museum of Art just in time for the Olympics, and is expected to lure Olympic visitors to BYU.

    The exhibit comes to BYU from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and will attract national and international visitors who are looking for cultural things to do and see, said Christine Howard, Marketing and Public Relations Manager of the Museum of Art.

    “A hundred years ago the West was an alluring place to go and to discover,” Howard said. “But now it has even more attraction, and we would like to present this in the show we have to illustrate how beautiful this part of the country is.”

    The Museum of Art will be the first stop for visitors to BYU for the next few months. During the Olympics, the museum will become the home for the BYU”s Visitor Center, the hub for Public Affairs and Guest Relations.

    All of the student staff of Public Affairs and Guest Relations has volunteered as museum docents, the Director of Public Affairs and Guest Relations, Ron Clark said.

    They will still help out with guided tours of campus, but will guide museum tours if regular docents are busy.

    Clark said he is looking forward to the move to the Museum of Art, which will happen the first part of next week.

    “The museum staff has literally thrown open the doors and welcomed us,” Clark said. “We couldn”t do it without their cooperation.”

    The Museum of Art is supporting a huge advertising campaign with billboards and radio advertisements to generate interest.

    “We also think because of the subject matter in this show that a lot of visitors will be interested in looking at how the west was portrayed in those times,” Howard said.

    When it was decided the Lure of the West was coming to BYU, it was slated an official Olympic-related event, but that changed because of its commercial sponsor, said BYU Olympic coordinator, Lee Bartlett.

    The exhibit would have been a part of the Cultural Olympiad, the arts festival surrounding the Games, but because the Smithonian”s exhibition sponsor is the Principal Financial Group, a for-profit organization, they were unable to have association with the Olympiad, said Linda Luchetti in public relations for the Olympic properties for the United States.

    The Olympiad only features groups supported by non-profit organizations.

    “At the outset, it wasn”t understood that there would be a conflict of financial sponsorship,” Bartlett said. “The Salt Lake Organizing Committee was disappointed the exhibit could not be a signature event.”

    Nonetheless, Bartlett said he hopes the exhibit will be a draw locally and that many Olympic guests will learn of it.

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