The BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures has a new home.
The Museum opened in a newly renovated space next door to Outdoors Unlimited at the corner of Canyon Road and 2230 North in Provo.
In celebration of the new space, the Museum is debuting a new exhibit telling the history of the Museum at BYU through important artifacts from the collections. Items from all over the world, from South and Central America to Asia and Polynesia and right here in Utah, will be on display in this exhibit.
The Museum is always free and is located at 2201 North Canyon Road. The regular hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
On Monday, February 23, from 7-9 p.m., there is a special Opening Night event: the public is invited to come explore the new space and exhibit and take part in the hands-on activities and enjoy refreshments.
The museum's big debut will be on Friday, February 27, from 7-10 p.m., as part of the BYU Night at the Museums event. Each of BYU's five museums - Museum of Art, Bean Life Science Museum, Education in Zion, Museum of Paleontology and the Museum of Peoples and Cultures - will keep their gallery spaces open late and provide a variety of entertainment and activities throughout the evening.
BYU's teaching museum, the Museum of Peoples and Cultures documents the diversity of human experience, is part of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences and gives students hands-on opportunities to learn about every aspect of the museum experience.
New Space and a New Exhibit
Anyone who has visited the Museum in its last location - Allen Hall, one of BYU's first dormitories located a few block south of campus - will be impressed with the airy new space. The new location provides more flexibility for exhibits and displaying collections a large gallery space. A classroom space will offer plenty of opportunities for group educational experiences. The move reunites the Museum's gallery space with its archive of collections, which was already being stored in this building for the last several years.
"We are very excited about this move and the new space," said Museum Director Paul Stavast. "It is beautiful and spacious and will allow us the flexibility to properly care for, research and display the artifacts to learn about and tell the story of so many peoples and cultures."
The new exhibit on display at the re-opening, called Second Stories, features highlights and favorites from the Museum's collections. The exhibit tells the story of the Museum through important artifacts: objects found in early museum work by James E. Talmage, artifacts acquired by the 1901 Cluff Expedition and reflections on the time that the Museum was housed in the Maeser Building and its three decades in Allen Hall.
Students Run the Show
The Museum provides many teaching opportunities for BYU students. The new exhibit, designed and curated by five anthropology graduate students, highlights the unique student-run operation of the museum. Under the direction Stavast, undergraduate and graduate students care for the collections; research, curate, design, and build exhibits; and then create the materials and programs to share the exhibitions with all types of visitors. Another team of students runs the events and promotions for the museum under the direction of the Museum Curator of Education Kari Nelson.
"Really the students are doing everything," said Nelson. "Because of the depth of experience and involvement they've been able to have, the students leaving our program have had good luck getting museum jobs."
Museum student workers like Jessica Simpson, who is pursuing a graduate degree in archaeology, are pushed to learn everything from construction skills to computer programming and to present at academic conferences. Simpson and other students involved with the Museum have the chance to perform a variety of tasks, like designing, building and promoting museum exhibits. This experience helps students become very marketable when entering the professional world.
"I get the chance to work with great people and work on amazing projects every day," said Simpson. "It would have been so much harder for me to find my way in the professional museum world without my involvement at the Museum."
Connecting With Community
The space will also allow the Museum to be a better neighbor and community member.
The Museum will continue to host activities for college students, school trips, Girl and Boy Scout troops and families. But with the Museum's proximity to Wyview Park apartments, elementary schools, residential neighborhoods and even the LaVell Edwards Stadium, the staff has been thinking about how they can take advantage of the new space and location.
"Our new location will allow us accommodate larger school groups, and we hope to develop partnerships with those schools that are close by," Nelson said. "It simply makes possible a lot of programs we haven't been able to do in the past."
Upcoming events will be posted on the Museum's website: mpc.byu.edu.
Writer: Nate Depperman