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History



Utah’s first museum for the visual arts, this beautiful Spanish Colonial Style building would be worth visiting even if there were no art.  Dedicated as a “Sanctuary of Beauty and a Temple of Contemplation ” by David O. McKay, the Museum houses nearly 3,000 works, 2,000 of which are Utah art.  The impressive collection of 150 years of Utah fine art, twentieth century Soviet Socialist Realism and American art, and 15 exhibitions per year are displayed throughout 29 galleries and the beautiful new sculpture garden.
 
The Museum recognizes the seed of potential within each individual and seeks to nurture growth through the creative process, positive cultural values, and a belief in the beauty of life.  Through the vision and generosity of Museum donors, visitors, members and volunteers, the Museum is able to fulfill the mission of its founders, John Hafen and Cyrus Dallin in refining minds and building character through fine art. The Museum is a non-profit fine arts institution, and has provided cultural and educational opportunities to residents and visitors of Utah for nearly 100 years. 
  
The history of the Museum began in 1903, with the donation of two works of art to Springville High School by Cyrus E. Dallin and John Hafen.  Dallin became famous for his heroic depictions of the American Indian, and Hafen for his sensitively rendered impressionistic landscapes.  In 1907 a number of Utah artists agreed to donate paintings to the school, including: James T. Harwood, John B. Fairbanks and Mahonri M. Young.  The students became interested in art and collecting, and began purchasing paintings and sculpture through an “Art Queen” program.  Each student paid a penny-per-vote.  The girl with the most votes was named queen, and the funds were used to purchase artwork for the Museum’s collection.  
  
 
Cultural and educational offerings at the Museum have expanded over time in response to community desire and need. A Paris Salon style exhibition was put on in 1921 by the High School students, which has continued as the Annual Spring Salon to this day.  In 1925, the Museum, then called the High School Art Gallery, became incorporated.  Generous donations from the Smart, Steed and Lund-Wassmer Collections have strengthened the Museum’s permanent collection.  By 1935, the collection had grown so much that the students and townspeople raised $100,000 during the Great Depression to construct the present facility.  The Museum has since been expanded and modernized with the addition of the Clyde Wing in 1965, and the George S. and Delores Dore Eccles Wing in 2004.  The new wing doubled the size of the facility, adding 20,000 square feet to the Museum. The latest addition is the beautiful Sam & Diane Stewart Sculpture Garden, dedicated in 2009.
 
 
History of the Museum>>
September 2, 2014
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