90th Anniversary Celebration

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks at 90th Anniversary Exhibition Press Conference

We are grateful that so many community members, former UMOCA board members, and government officials were able to join us for the opening of Contemporary Since 1931, an exhibition which explored the 90 year history of UMOCA. 

The grand opening had speeches by UMOCA Trustee and Utah State Senator Derek Kitchen, Salt Lake County Deputy Mayor Erin Litvak, Utah Department of Arts and Museums Director Vicki Bourns, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, and UMOCA Executive Director Laura Allred Hurtado. The speakers touched upon UMOCA’s clear and independent voice from its founding in 1931 and how the museum has shaped contemporary art in Utah. Governor Spencer Cox said, “It is with great delight that I congratulate the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art on 90 years of bringing compelling and innovative art to the state of Utah. Since its beginnings at the Art Barn near the University of Utah, and through its renaming as the Salt Lake Art Center and its move to downtown Salt Lake City, UMOCA has presented a rich variety of talented Utah artists to a diverse audience. The museum is a jewel in the thriving cultural core of Salt Lake City. Best wishes, and here’s to the next 90 years!”

The exhibition itself was organized chronologically into three general eras, exploring the history through representative artwork and archival material from every decade. Co-curated by Frank McEntire (first UMOCA solo exhibition in 1992), Laura Allred Hurtado (first UMOCA curated exhibition in 2013) and Jared Steffensen (first UMOCA exhibition in 2010), with in-depth research help from scholars Glen Nelson and Maddie Blonquist Shrum, the exhibition highlighted a sampling of the thousands of artists, writers, teachers, donors, makers, thinkers, and leaders who passed through UMOCA’s doors and whose works, determination, scrappiness, generosity, and ideas helped to cultivate, express, and hold a space for a steady independent, contemporary spirit in Utah—then, now, and in the many years to come.