“New Museum Opens at BYU,” Ensign, Oct. 1993, 80
Brigham Young University’s new Museum of Art opens to the public this month, October 18. The graceful red granite building is a much-needed facility and a dream come true.
“BYU has an extensive collection of museum-quality art that includes etchings by Rembrandt, paintings by J. Alden Weir, jade from the Ming Dynasty, sculptures by Mahonri Young, and some sterling examples from many respected artists,” explained James Mason, the museum’s first director. “While many pieces have been widely loaned, they have rarely been displayed on campus, because BYU has not had an adequate exhibit facility. In addition, many artworks have not been seen by the general public in more than half a century.”
The new 100,000-square-foot building, comprising three levels plus a mezzanine, provides ample space for displays, shows, and exhibits. The largest museum between Denver and San Francisco, BYU’s Museum of Art includes 700- to 4,000-square-foot galleries. In addition, the museum houses an educational center, which includes an electronic classroom and a children’s hands-on activity area. There are also cataloging and record-keeping areas, a conservation lab, photography lab, restaurant, gift shop, and exhibition design space. BYU’s art pieces not on display or loan will be kept in an extensive storage area.
Although normally there is no admission fee to get into the museum, special exhibits must be “self-sustaining,” explained Brother Mason. The museum’s opening show, “The Etruscans, Legacy of a Lost Civilization,” is one of those exhibits, and a fee will be charged.
When the Etruscan show closes, the museum will feature some exhibits and displays from its own art collection, including “Rembrandt Drawings,” “150 Years of American Art,” “Great Civilizations of Asia,” and “Utah Print Makers.”
“We are preparing for an exhibit from the Metropolitan Museum for next year as well as several international-quality shows,” Brother Mason noted. “It’s the beginning of a new era in the arts in the region.”