Offering innovative exhibitions and programs, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art is a hub for the community to explore the contemporary cultural landscape
The award-winning UMOCA exhibits groundbreaking artwork by local, national, and international artists. Four gallery spaces provide an opportunity for the community to explore the contemporary cultural landscape through UMOCA’s exhibitions, films, events, classes, and presentations.
Founded in 1931, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has been recognized as Best Museum in the State of Utah for 2011 and 2012 and is a four-time recipient of funding from the Andy Warhol Foundation.
Admission is a $5 suggested donation.
Alta Rawlins Jensen is the person most responsible for the foundation of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, formerly known as the Salt Lake Art Center. An activist and visionary, she conceived of a contemporary art center for Salt Lake City and Utah. She co-founded the Art Barn Association in 1931 with those who shared her dream, and served as the first President.
Beginning in 1932, the Great Depression was under way and spirits were low, the Art Barn began exhibiting some of the most avant-garde art and artists from Utah, the Western United States, and from the national and international scene.
While Utah artists were exhibited in the galleries with some frequency, there was even more focus on the necessity to introduce the community to artists and artwork outside Utah. It was also not unusual to find numerous exhibitions curated by galleries or museums in New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco in the galleries.
For the first thirty years, the Art Barn’s activities were managed entirely by volunteers, with professional artists hired to teach classes. But following a name change to Salt Lake Art Center in 1958, and the hiring of James Haseltine, its first paid full-time director in 1961, the all-volunteer organization had a professional leadership. Under the direction of Haseltine, the Salt Lake Art Center focused more in-depth on Abstract Expressionism, architecture, and sculpture.
A major move in the 1979 from the Art Barn, near the University of Utah campus, to its current location, one of the buildings in the Bicentennial Arts Complex, the Salt Lake Art Center found itself in the heart of the downtown core.
In 1994 the Salt Lake Art Center underwent its first and only major outdoor renovation; the facade was changed to its current appearance with a new ramp, revolving doors and the glass pyramid atop the entrance.
In 2011, The Salt Lake Art Center became the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. Re-branding the Salt Lake Art Center into UMOCA better discloses to the public the organization’s function as a museum specializing in contemporary art.