Museum of Peoples and Cultures Offers Creative Dates

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    By Jenica Stimpson

    Do you want to come home from a date with more than a mere peck on the cheek? Instead of the clich?d movie-and-dinner date try a night at the Museum of Peoples and Cultures where they keep it fresh and creative.

    Date nights are sprinkled throughout each semester with events like “Culture-Me-Mine,” where guests are given a tour, refreshments, a memento and an opportunity to sculpt pottery.

    “Our event room is set up with clay, and people can design what they want,” said Katie Criddle, museum promotions manager. “A lot of people get really creative.”

    The next “Culture-Me-Mine” date nights are at 6 and 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 22 and March 14. Tickets are available at the WSC one week before and are $10 per couple.

    “I really like the date nights because it gives students the opportunity to come down and get a bit of culture, but also have fun at the same time,” said Paul Stavast, director of the museum.

    Family home evening groups can attend “FHE at the Museum” on the second and fourth Mondays every month. These events start at 6:30 p.m. for families from the community, and at 7 p.m. for two student FHE groups.

    “Our FHE tours have a more spiritual tilt to them than our regular tours,” Criddle said. To reserve your group”s place for this event, call to make reservations two weeks in advance. A $5 donation is requested per group.

    This museum is run entirely by students with the exceptions of the director and curators.

    “The great aspect of museums is that they span a lot of disciplines,” said Kari Nelson, curator of education. “We have people working here who are involved in promotion and advertising, anthropology students who are interested in the people who created the objects that we collect, and people in design that are interested in how the museum is designed.”

    An educator services program is working with a graduate course to update its current teaching kits. The four teaching kits focus on the Great Basin, Mesoamerica, Southwest and Ouelessebougou Mali. They are designed to accompany the required curriculum in Utah public schools and provide hands-on experience for students.

    Each kit contains real artifacts and objects, replicas, traditional crafts, sample lesson plans and teaching aids, educational videos, audiotapes and reference books. Each one may be checked out for one week for a rental fee of $15 and a $50 refundable deposit.

    For the family with preschoolers and young children, “Stories from Around the World” is presented every Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. A volunteer reads stories about different cultures to educate and entertain younger listeners.

    Children can color in coloring books, go on a Casas Grandes scavenger hunt or read at the “Exploration Station.”

    The museum”s current exhibit “Seeking the Divine: Ritual, Prayer and Celebration” will be on display until the museum”s annual block party on May 10. At that time they will introduce the next exhibit that will be on display until May 2009: “Touching the Past: Traditions of Casas Grandes.”

    Casas Grandes was a civilization that had a diverse mix of cultural traits, occupations, skills, and beliefs. One trait is their skillfully crafted pottery, some of which is on exhibit at the museum.

    The “Seeking the Divine” exhibition explores rituals and ceremonies that allow people to seek the divine, especially during crucial life events such as birth, coming-of-age, marriage and death. The presentation shows skeletons used during the Day of the Death, and devil masks from Sri Lanka made to pacify evil spirits and honor benevolent ones.

    For more information on the museum or to make reservations for an event, call (801) 422-0020.

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