Visiting Utah this winter? Get a dose of culture by visiting one of the many exhibitions taking place at museums throughout the state over the coming months.
Home to a remarkable five national parks, it’s little surprise that the landlocked state in the Mountain West subregion of the United States has served as inspiration for a large number of eminent artists down the years. But it’s not just Utah’s rich natural landscapes that feature in the many exhibitions hosted by museums across the state each year. We’ve picked out 10 of the best that are running through this winter.
The People’s Tapestry: Weaving Tradition in Navajo Culture
Textiles woven by the Diné (which means “the people” in Navajo, a Native American tribe in the Southwestern United States), reflect the concept of hózhóó, or balance and harmony. This balance is reflected in the primarily symmetrical designs, considered to bring beauty and a sense of well-being. A celebration of Diné weaving culture, this exhibition features approximately 100 textiles, along with historic photographs of weaving scenes from centuries ago, while contemporary images of heritage sheep shearing remind guests of a deeply rooted tradition that still thrives today.
Moab Museum, Moab / Through February 2024
Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall
For over six decades, English primatologist and anthropologist Dr. Jane Goodall has braved the unknown to give the world a remarkable window into humankind’s closest living relatives: chimpanzees. In this hands-on multimedia exhibition celebrating her extraordinary life and work, visitors will get to explore Dr. Goodall’s early years through iconic images and a multiscreen experience and venture on an immersive projection of Tanzania’s Gombe Stream National Park, where she undertook her famous behavioural research on chimps. Other highlights include a life-size hologram of Dr. Goodall, a replica of her research tent, and displays about her current role as a leader in community-centred conservation and youth empowerment.
Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City / 7 December 2023 – 27 May 2024
Into the Mind of Artificial Intelligence
This new, cutting-edge immersive exhibit offers a unique glimpse into the realm of artificial intelligence. Through several interactive displays and workstations that guide visitors through the past, present, and future of Artificial Intelligence, unveiling its boundless possibilities, guests are challenged to look closely, and to question everything. Where might this incredible technology take us in the future? It also offers supplemental programming including lectures, panel discussions, and special events, aimed at further engaging community partners and facilitating collaboration between academia, industry, and the public.
The Leonardo Museum, Salt Lake City / Opening January 2024
Spirit & Grit: Ranching in Canyonlands
Thousands of years of human history have unfolded across the Dead Horse Point State Park landscape. Located in San Juan County, southeast Utah, the park’s name originates from its storied ranching heritage, which includes the legendary tale of a group of cowboys who cornered a herd of wild horses on the point. The horses, in a frenzy of exhaustion and thirst, could see and smell the water below and leapt to their deaths. This exhibition invites visitors to take a look back in time at this colourful chapter of regional history and learn how cattle hands survived in Canyon Country. Did they really camp for months? What happened before cattle ranching? And how did they raise babies in the desert, much less thousands of cows? All of these questions, and more, are answered on this captivating journey of the Moab area from a perspective rarely told
Moab Museum, Moab / Through winter 2023-24
With This Covenant in My Heart: The Art and Faith of Minerva Teichert
Situated on the west side of Salt Lake City’s Historic Temple Square, the Church History Museum houses important artifacts of the founding, pioneers, and contemporary leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as a collection of works by many of its illustrious artists from 1830 to the present. This exhibition showcases 45 paintings by American artist Minerva Teichert – of whose work the church was a major patron in the 1930s and 1940s – and is organised around Teichert’s account of falling ill during the 1918 influenza pandemic. The exhibition also includes interactive audio kiosks that feature Teichert talking about different periods of her life and her children discussing what it was like having an eminent artist as a mother.
Church History Museum, Salt Lake City / Through 3 August 2024
Glen Canyon: A River Guide Remembers
Iconic Utah outfitter Ken Sleight began his river-guiding career in Glen Canyon during the mid-1950s. Around the same time, plans to build a dam threatened to bury the canyon under a reservoir. In response, Sleight decided to use every ray of daylight to memorise the details of his beloved canyon before it was too late. Dedicated to the lost canyon, or as some describe it, the lost national park, this exhibition features historic landscape photographs, Ancestral Puebloan artifacts, boats, river gear, passenger portraits, journals, registers, and handwritten packing lists that show both the simplicity and richness of what each day on a river trip through Glen Canyon was like with Ken Sleight as a guide.
John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Green River / Through 2 June 2024
Andrea Jensen: Solastalgia
The term ‘Solastalgia’ is used to describe the feeling of homesickness while we are still at home. More recently, it has become associated with the anxiety caused by environmental changes, and particularly climate change. Featuring works by American artist Andrea Jenson, this exhibition shines a light on the distress caused by those changes – as seen through the lens of abstracted landscape paintings. Originally from the Midwest, Jensen has experienced the shift from a humid environment to an arid one when moving to Utah, and it is these conditions together with extreme weather events experienced in both regions that have inspired Jensen’s paintings, with the lack of water and vegetation shaping her barren landscapes, and the use of colours influenced by smoke from forest fires. Through abstraction, her paintings invite the viewer to consider what that juxtaposition means in relation to the seemingly slow-motion yet perceptible threat of climate change.
Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City / Through 6 January 2024
Shaping Landscape: 150 Years of Photography in UtahThe history of photography in the United States is deeply tied to the American West. From 19th-century survey expeditions to 21st-century environmental activism, western landscapes have been featured as some of the most prominent subjects in American photographic history. Confronting humanity’s impact on the region since the 1870s – specifically the railroads, highways, mines, and other forms of infrastructure that puncture the “natural” landscape – this exhibition traces 150 years of Utah landscape photography and how it intersects with the legacies of industrialisation and colonisation in the American West.
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City / Through 3 March 2024
The Most Noble Subject: Artists, Muses, and Inspiration in the Gail Miller and Kim Wilson Collection
A renowned painter of the Utah wilderness and natural wonders in general, Henry Lavender Adolphus Culmer – also known as Harry Culmer – depicted magnificent scenes of the American West in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, believing the mountains of the region to be “the most noble subject for an artist’s brush.” Comprising masterpieces of Utah and Danish art including paintings by Culmer and other historic Utah artists, as well as works by living and contemporary Utah artists, this exhibition explores what the artists featured in the exhibition considered their “most noble subject.”
Springville Museum of Art, Springville / Through 16 March 2024
Climate of Hope
It’s widely accepted that, much like everywhere, Utah’s climate is changing and the impacts are increasingly significant. The saving grace, however, is that it’s not too late to create a future in which humans and nature thrive. Many Utahns are already taking action with a clear-eyed understanding of the challenges and a focus on effective solutions at hand to work towards a healthy, prosperous, low-carbon future. This exhibition sets the stage by showcasing a path to rational hope in what is often perceived as a hopeless situation. Through a range of exhibits, it explores the impacts of climate change in Utah before celebrating solutions that have been developed in the state itself.
Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City / Ongoing