“Night at the Museum” Meets the Utah State Capitol

By Will Glade
Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY — Many special visitors could be seen on the floor of the Capitol’s rotunda recently. From snakes and spiders to owls and hawks, and even a flashback to the 1800s could be seen as people passed through the different displays put up by Utah museums from all around the state.

It was museum awareness day on the hill and patrons of the State Capitol were able to get a small taste of what museums around Utah have to offer.

Geoffrey Fattah, public information officer with The Utah Department of Heritage and Arts, said,”We have roughly 250 museums in Utah, and last year we actually attracted around 8 million visitors to those museums. We feel like Utah’s museums create an opportunity to educate people and educate children, also just as important museums contribute to Utah’s economy.”

The Utah Museum Association set up the Museum Advocacy Day on the capitol, to raise awareness of all of the different opportunities museums provide Utahns.

Jessica Weiss, an advocate for museums and a member of the Utah Museum Association, said, “Utah is home to a really unique heritage, history and culture and a big part of what so many of Utah’s museums are doing is preserving and caretaking that history, that heritage, that culture. So we want to make sure that they have the support and the resources they need to be able to continue that work and to keep that history and share it with others.”

The museums that were present, represented a wide array of areas of interest. From the Aerospace Museum at Hill Air Force base, to the Living Planet Aquarium, there was something for every member of the family to enjoy. Many historical sites in Utah are considered museums and look to share their interests with all Utahns.

Museums from around the state receive much of their funding from the State Government through grants provided by the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.

Fattah said, “Most of [the museums] are non-profits, they receive multiple funding sources, they get grants through us, through the State of Utah, through non-profit foundations that give grants, they get donations from their patrons, so each museum in Utah gets their money from various sources to keep running.”

Many of the smaller museums work on only the grants provided to them by the state of a few thousand dollars. Many of those who work at the museums around the state, are volunteers and provide their time and efforts to continue the success of the museums around the state.

Although there is money appropriated to museums from the overall budget, funds are still limited for the number of museums the state has.

Laurel Cannon Alder, grants manager of the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, said, “We have 285 museums around the state and our budget is around $200,000, and we are trying to get $120,000 in addition to that now.”

There is some action that may be taken this year to assure the funding, but as of right now it is unclear as to what the Legislature will do.

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Categories: Utah Legislature, Utah News

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