What started as two simple donations to a high school turned into Utah’s first art museum.
The Springville Museum of Art is the home to over 2,500 pieces of artwork, and hosts educational and cultural events for locals and visitors every month.
The museum has been Springville history since 1903. It was dedicated in 1937 by President David O. McKay as a “sanctuary of beauty and a temple of contemplation,” according to smofa.org.
Artists Cyrus E. Dallin and John Hafen, had a dream to bring art to the people of Utah. The two artists known for their paintings and sculptures depicting American History sparked an interest in artists around Utah. More artists agreed to donate their paintings to the high school and students started collecting art for their school.
The students started an effort called the “Art Queen.” Students would vote on a queen from a group of girls in their school. Each student had to pay a penny for every vote they cast. The girl who won was crowned as the art queen and then all of the donations went to the growing art collection.
“The paintings we have in our permanent collection come from those high school students’ efforts,” said Rita Wright, director of the museum.”We have a rich history with the community and we want it to stay that way.”
The community was so excited about Art Queen that they started requesting more exhibits and events. The high school students put on a Paris Salon style exhibition in 1921, according to smofa.org. The Salon is now called The Spring Salon, and it’s one of the museums most popular exhibits. The museum received a name in 1925, it was called the High School Art Gallery, but it needed a bigger facility as the permanent collection grew due to generous donations.
The students and citizens of Springville raised $100,000 during the Great Depression to build the historic Spanish mission style building that stands today.
Visitors can see paintings from local artists and college students, paintings telling the history of Utah, and Soviet Impressionist paintings. The LDS Church donates art every year for exhibits as well.
Today the museum is giving back to the people through community art exhibits and programs. The museum invites all children in the local schools of Springville and Provo to submit their artwork for the annual Christmas exhibit. The museum also gives back to teens every year by hosting the Annual Utah All-State High School Art Show. The museum will host it for the 43rd year in February.
Ali Royal is a Museum Educator for High School and Teacher Programs. She and Rachel Stratford help plan the events for the community.
“The art show really embraces the vision and mission of the museums founders,” Royal said. “It’s one of the best exhibitions we have in the state, and it’s a really good experience for young artists to create original work and experience that spirit of competition.”
The art museum has been a part of BYU students lives as well. Aimee Elder visits the museum every year for Christmas to see the children’s art exhibit. Her sister had her wedding reception at the museum earlier this year.
“It’s so sweet to see the art from the kids,” Elder said. “The building really is beautiful too. It’s a work of art itself. No decorations were needed for the wedding.”
BYU students looking for internship experiences in museums and art don’t have to look very far. The museum offers internship ppportunities in the fall and winter semesters.
The building and its history, art and architecture are a legacy to the city of Springville and the museum hopes to bless the lives of everyone for years to come.
For more information on museum events and upcoming exhibitions visit www.smofa.org for more information. Visitors can even get a digital preview of the permanent exhibit online.