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UMOCA: Contemporary Since 1931

Aug 6, 2021 – Sep 11, 2021

From its very start, UMOCA has been resolutely, tirelessly contemporary since 1931, a clear and independent voice, committed to some of the most pressing issues of its day. While many things have changed over the ninety-year history, some things have not, including a commitment to community, local artists, education, vision, awareness, and inclusion. These values—so central to the public’s expectations of art and artists in the 21st century—have been an integral part of the mission for nine decades. Each incarnation—from the Art Barn (1931-1958) to the Salt Lake Art Center (1959-2010), to the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (2011-present)—has marked a unique expression of the mission and has further clarified a long-held commitment to the art of our time.

Organized chronologically into three general eras, this exhibition explores the history through representative artwork and archival material from every decade. Co-curated by Frank McEntire and Jared Steffensen, with in-depth research help from scholars Glen Nelson and Maddie Blonquit Shrum, the exhibition highlights just a sampling of the thousands of artists, writers, teachers, donors, makers, thinkers, and leaders who passed through our 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.

Supported by ZAP, Thrive 125, Salt Lake City Arts Council, Lawrence T. and Janet T. Dee Foundation, and Zions Bank.