New wing added to local museum

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    By Scott Christopher

    In 1937, President David O. McKay dedicated the Springville Museum of Art to be a “sanctuary of beauty and a temple of meditation.” Having recently received a large new addition, the museum continues to fulfill that vision.

    “A new wing was added in the ”60s, and in the ”90s we started another that we”ve been working on for about five years,” said Sharon Gray, the museum”s associate director.

    The new galleries have doubled the size of the existing museum to 40,000 square feet.

    And they haven”t even finished the basement, which will include a children”s area, classrooms, offices and storage space.

    The museum is run by the city and supported by tax dollars, Gray said. However, the money for expansion and remodeling comes primarily from donors, so they build it a step at a time.

    “The museum at the U, for example, was heavily funded,” said Gray. “They were given an additional $10 million before they even finished construction to add another wing. We got about $4 million, mostly raised the hard way – selling cupcakes, the Art Ball; we do all kinds of fund raisers.”

    The building itself is unique among Utah architecture with its Spanish Colonial style and hand-made tiled floor. Walking through the archways and up the spiral staircase gives one the impression of visiting a 19th century mission.

    Because of the museum”s unique beauty and spacious halls, the city also rents it out for wedding receptions and other special events. The rental fees help fund the museum, Gray said.

    Gray seemed giddy when showing off the new kitchen, elevator and air conditioning system.

    “Our first summer ever with [air conditioning],” she said. “Be grateful for that!”

    But the art is the real draw. The two-story museum boasts a collection of 1,650 works, mostly by Utah, American and Russian artists.

    “Our mission is to collect and emphasize the works of Utah artists,” Gray said. “Additionally, though, we have the finest display of Soviet socialist realist works in the U.S.”

    The Russian collection is owned by a local donor and has been ”on loan” at the museum for about a decade. Gray laughed as she recalled how hard it was to hang some of the larger pieces. The entire fulltime staff, consisting of just four, was needed.

    The art movement in Utah”s “Art City” began in 1903 when renowned artists John Hafen and Cyrus Dallin donated several of their works to Springville High School. The original gifts are still on display, 100 years later. Dallin was commissioned to create a Paul Revere piece for downtown Boston. His massive statue of Massasoit is at the state capitol. The angel Moroni atop the Salt Lake Temple is his work.

    The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays it closes at 9 p.m. On Sundays it”s open from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

    “It”s a nice after-church activity,” Gray said, “It”s a good place to come on Sunday afternoons.”

    Though typically closed Mondays, the museum has announced a Family and Community Night to be held the first Monday of every month featuring local artists, live music and art activities for the family.

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