Museum of Art employees reflect on museum after hosting 25th-anniversary event

Thousands of people gather at the Museum of Art for its monthly Art After Dark event Sept. 18. (Matthew Loveland/BYU Museum of Art)

BYU Museum of Art employees wrapped up their year-long 25th anniversary celebrations last week.

The MOA hosted a public event, Art after Dark, on Sept. 18 to commemorate the year. Around 3,000 people attended the event — a noteworthy achievement, as it was the most attended of any monthly Art After Dark event in eight years, according to Kylie Brooks, the marketing and public relations manager for the MOA.

Brooks said she was pleased with the turnout and said she thinks students sometimes don’t recognize how much the MOA is part of BYU’s campus.

“It was fun to show students that this is a big deal,” she said.

Brooks said their “Art After Dark” event is like a “gateway program” which provides a casual, fun environment with friends, food and music to help students feel comfortable coming to the museum.

“We are this resource that (students) have on their campus the whole time that they’re here, and we want students to feel comfortable coming here and engaging with the different events and programs and exhibitions that we have,” she said. “We want them to know that they are welcome here.”

Brooks said the MOA currently houses over 18,000 objects in their art collection.

“The BYU art collection existed long before the museum opened — it’s been around since BYU has been around,” she said. “But now that we have the Museum of Art, there’s a place to safeguard and also exhibit the art collection that’s growing every year.”

That collection keeps growing. Brooks noted two new museum exhibitions that were planned in advance for the 25th anniversary and were showcased at the celebratory event — “Becoming America” and “Rent the Heavens: Intersections of the Human and the Divine.” These exhibits are semi-permanent and will be displayed in the MOA until 2021.

Students look at pieces of art in the MOA. (Matthew Loveland/BYU Museum of Art)

BYU art history senior Elena Free has worked as a MOA student educator for almost two years. Like Brooks, Free said art is accessible to students through the MOA.

“I think art is sometimes thought of as inaccessible if you’re not familiar with art or if you don’t frequent museums,” she said. “Art might feel a bit daunting, but I think bringing it to a campus level and having admission be free, it creates a place of accessibility where anyone can engage with the art.”

Free gives student tours at the museums, which she said is her favorite part of working there.

“Seeing art… in its original form hung on a wall is more moving than seeing art anywhere else. I think that I’ve learned the importance of that through working at the museum. But I really appreciate museum values and how that works to create a better experience for us and a more moving experience for the viewer.”

Brooks said museum staff are looking forward to showcasing more programs throughout the rest of the year such as Art After Dark, lunchtime gallery talks and yoga at the MOA. She emphasized that these programs are put on for the benefit of the students and community.

“We have this professional museum that showcases some of the best art and artists, and being able to provide that to our campus community and our local community and to the state is a huge honor,” she said. “We’re so grateful we’ve been able to do that for the past 25 years. It’s been a fun year of celebrating our collection.” 

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