April 10th, 2018
University of Utah Student Relationships with Campus Museums and Galleries
SALT LAKE CITY – The University of Utah has much to offer its students. Whether you are looking for a great education, an involved social community, top-tier sporting events, or annual concerts there is plenty for students to experience. One thing the university provides for its students is a diverse and free set of museums and galleries some of which have been around for almost a century.
The university has three museums and a variety of student galleries. First, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) located in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building, is a hub for “global visual arts” with nearly 20,000 original works ranging from ancient to modern day pieces. Since its inception in 1917, the UMFA has gained traction through its community, educating youth in world culture through art. In 2005, the museum was declared the states representative museum of fine arts. The museum is continuing to grow and recently finished a 19-month redevelopment. The UMFA provides insight into world cultures both ancient and contemporary.
The second, The Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) located above research park on campus is devoted to the wonder and education found in the natural world. As Utah is a premier location for fossilization discovery the museum is littered with accurate representations and recreations of the ancient and modern world. According to their website the NHMU aims to “illuminate the natural world and the place of humans within it” tying together the past with the future of humanity.
The third and institution is the states Arboretum, Red Butte Gardens. Red Butte Gardens is the Botanical collection with over 100 acres of gardens, trails, and picnic area located just North of the NHMU. It was created in 1930 for plant research, however, it wasn’t formally opened to the public until 1985. The garden is community funded and sees over 200,000 visitors a year. According to their website, the gardens provide a sight of approximately “450,000 springtime blooming bulbs.”
Of all the available experiences on campus, what do students enjoy? Are these commodities being utilized by the student population or are they falling by the wayside? Of the students spoken with, 30% of students said they either intended to but had not yet been to any of these facilities or hadn’t considered going at all. Chris Khauv, currently a Junior at the University of Utah said, “I always thought about going to Red Butte Gardens because I’ve seen photos and it always looked interesting, but when I have free time, it doesn’t really come up as an option.” Then a pause, “Santana played a concert there last year though,” he added, “I wanted to go but it was too expensive.” The Red Butte Garden concerts have been going on for almost two decades in order to bring locals to experience music and the gardens together. However, with a steep price and a majority of bands hosted being jazz, blues, and contemporary rock, it’s clear that students are not the target of these particular shows.
Robert Lusk, another university student had a much different experience with the institutions, “I’ve been to both the Natural History Museum [of Utah] and Red Butte Gardens many times and always enjoyed my time there.” When asked about the use of these facilities by his peers Robert continued, “I think that most students know what is available to them and I’m sure it is used as a selling point on campus tours, and I know a lot of people that have visited one of the museums, I just think it doesn’t interest certain people is all.” Obviously, museums aren’t for everyone, but by providing an assortment of choices whether it is historical, botanical, or artistic, it is more likely that at least of the museums or galleries will appeal to a wide range of students.
The university community is important to these facilities. They’re open to the public but because of proximity and educational origin, students are always encouraged to participate in their programs. When asked about the involvement in the university population, Ariana Trevizo, a volunteer of Red Butte Gardens in the past said “The Red Butte Gardens is a community project, just as the community gives, it gives back. Students are always encouraged to come experience the property in between classes, on weekends, and during events.”
The University of Utah is a diverse community of people from cultures all around the world. Its pride is in the diversification of culture and provides the facilities to experience both Utah and world culture through experiences. Whether it is learning about the traditions of native tribes, ancient Asian sculptures, or about the Penstemon utahensis the desert plant native to Southern Utah. The university gives its student the option to learn outside of the classroom.
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