Staff Picks: Museums and Exhibitions

Weekends aren’t always about clubbing, outdoor excursions or brunching the day away. Sometimes you need a slower paced weekend adventure. Try awakening your mind and soul by visiting one of Utah’s many art, science or history museums. Disappear into the past dodging the mammoth-sized dinosaurs of yore or get introduced to some new inspiring local artists of today. Don’t like to be inside on a beautiful spring day? That’s no problem, because we’ve even got an outdoor sculpture garden that you can wander while you work on your tan. Here are our picks for museums and exhibitions to add to your weekend to-do lists.

Christie Marcy, Associate Editor

It’s hard to find things to do with a with a teenage daughter. Thank goodness, my 16-year-old and I have found some common ground. We both like the X-Files, dog and cat videos, Thai food and Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA).

She likes UMOCA because it makes her feel grown up to appreciate thought-provoking art and I like it because I will literally stab my eyes out if I have to look at another landscape. Yes. Literally. You’ll like it because the average visit only takes about an hour and the entry fee is a suggested donation (but definitely throw a few bones their way, guys.)

And as luck would have it, Out Loud, the museum’s annual project with LGBT Utah youth is opening this Friday night (May 5, opening reception 7-9 pm) and running through July 8. Take your teenagers. 

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art: 20 South West Temple, SLC

Amy Whiting, Editorial Intern

My short attention span and intense curiosity doesn’t well suit me to a museum that’s quiet and made only for whispering refined commentary, which is why my pick is the good ol’ fashioned Natural History Museum. Sometimes classics are classic for a reason. It’s perfect for anyone with small children, because it’s bright and attention-grabbing and (this is obviously a big deal) you don’t have to whisper. Rather the opposite, in fact, if you take a toddler to the Dinosaur exhibit and ask “what sound does a T-Rex make?” (But do we even know for sure?) 
301 Wakara Way, SLC, 801-581-6927
Mary Brown Malouf, Executive Editor

Visionary Art . Something in the human psyche drives us to create. It’s a need that scientists have never explained satisfactorily and one which current culture all-to-often ignores—just look at the cuts in public school arts programs. Nevertheless, with or without training, people make art—art dealers call it outsider art, folk art, visionary art, naive art, self-taught art and we have several inspiring examples here in Salt Lake City, guaranteed to make you reconsider the origins of artistic inspiration. One, Gilgal Sculpture Garden is hidden in the heart of the city. The little park contains 12 stone sculptures created by Thomas Battersby Child, Jr. Joseph Smith’s head on the body of a sphinx is the most famous, but they’re all interesting. Free. 749 E. 500 South, Our other notable visionary artist, Ralphael Plescia, grew up playing in Gilgal Gardens and has created a multi-level, multimedia environmental artwork based on the Book of Revelations. Read more about Ralphael here: and note: He prefers visitors on Fridays.

Jeanine Miller, Art Directors

Clark Planetarium renovated last fall and has some great new exhibits to explore. The exhibits are free and a great outing for kids on a rainy day or any day for that matter. Check out the programmable rovers, they were a hit in our family! Also stop by the Planet Fun Store for fun and unique gifts!

Andrea Peterson, Digital Media Manager

Unique doesn’t mean exotic.  Local doesn’t mean boring. You can get both unique and local art right in the same place.  The Urban Arts gallery showcases  contemporary works by Utah artists that range from street art to fine modern art. I’m the kind of gal who can’t get enough of animals in chunky glasses or eccentric graphic tees. My favorite part about the gallery is that you can not only purchase the art showcased, but there is a boutique just inside where you can purchase affordable prints, jewelry, t-shirts and mustached stuffed animals. (Yes, I know I’m a sucker for hipster paraphernalia). The UAA also offers the SLC Arts Hub at 663 West 100 South for events and meeting space. The are not open on Sundays.

Andrea Peterson
Andrea Peterson
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