Don’t Be An April Fool: Dispelling Myths about Museums

Today is April Fool’s Day. Usually reserved for pranks and hoaxes, we here at the UMFA thought instead we’d focus on the things we’re so often tricked into believing about museums. You know, the kinds of things that make people feel unwelcome in a museum, intimidated, or maybe just disinterested. In fact, as we were brainstorming all of the misconceptions and myths people have about museums, we came up with more than enough to focus on this for the entire month of April.

So, that’s what we’ll be doing. Check back with this blog every Monday to see what myth we’re debunking for the week, and keep an eye on our Facebook and twitter throughout the week for lots of other great myth-busting (you follow us, right?)

This week we thought we’d focus on all the anxiety that can sometimes get built up around what should be the simplest part of visiting a museum: walking in the door. Literally.

What’s so hard about opening a museum door and walking through? Well, if you don’t know what to expect, it can feel a little intimidating. Do you have to show your ID? Sign in? Check your backpack? Your purse? No one wants to make a mistake in public, and unfortunately sometimes this fear can be enough to keep us from experiencing new things. Let us remember: A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing (George Bernard Shaw).

So, let’s figure this out together. In fact, this post could also be called:

How To Enter the UMFA: A Visitor’s Guide 

Now, if you’re a student here at the U, imagine that you’re standing right in front of the Marriott Library on the cement ocean that is the Marriott Library Plaza:

Marriott Library Plaza, looking toward the Student Union Building

Marriott Library Plaza, looking toward the Student Union Building

You can see just over there the A. Ray Olpin Student Union, a beating heart of U student life. And, so close you can almost touch it, is the J. Willard Marriott Library, another beating heart of campus life, and a great partner of the UMFA.

The Plaza entrance of the Marriott Library

The Plaza entrance of the Marriott Library

While standing on the Marriott Library Plaza, without taking a step in any direction, with the Union at your back, you’ll be able to just make out the UMFA. We’re that building just down the long sidewalk, the one with the brilliant blue roof, and we want you to come visit.

Marriott Library Plaza, facing east toward the UMFA (the Union is at my back)

Marriott Library Plaza, facing east toward the UMFA (see that bright blue roof? that’s us!) The Union is at my back when I’m facing the UMFA.

See? There we are:

Taken from the Marriott Plaza. And see: you can just make out the letters "UMFA"...

Taken from the Marriott Plaza. You can just make out the letters “UMFA”…

Making your way down the sidewalk, in just a few steps you’ll be able to see our building and our sign. This walk will take you roughly one minute and twenty four seconds (not even enough to listen to your favorite song), but take your time. We’re not going anywhere.

Moving east down the sidewalk, away from Marriott Plaza and toward the UMFA

Moving east down the sidewalk, away from Marriott Plaza and toward the UMFA

Once you arrive at our highly-reflective doors, it can look sort of tricky: are there people in there? Are they even open? Is the outfit that I’m wearing right for this?

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But the doors should reassure you. For one, their mirrored quality will let you see that yes, you do look fabulous, but also our hours are posted. You can always check our website, too, for any holiday closure information, or to make sure to be there for any of our (many) cool events.

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Maybe you don’t want to walk. Maybe you want to drive and park. Well, that’s just fine–we’re ready to welcome you that way, too. We have a visitor lot right by the building, just off Center Campus Drive. You’ll want to know your license plate to register your car with the desk (if you’re bad with numbers, like I am, I just take a picture with my phone to help me remember). There are a limited amount of stalls, but the UMFA is also right by a Trax stop. Click here for more details.

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Now, it’s time to come on in:

The stairs leading to the UMFA

The stairs leading to the UMFA

You might see a security guard in a maroon (burgundy? crimson?) shirt posted right at the door when you walk in. Go ahead and say hi, but you can just walk straight ahead to the front desk. One of our friendly staff will be ready to greet you. If you’re carrying a big bag or backpack, you will be asked to check it here (for free), but purses are just fine. What about photography, coffee, etc? Well, we’re way ahead of you: check out this list of Museum Manners on our site.

If you’re a higher education student in the state of Utah, you get in for FREE (bring your ID!). If you’re a U student, we’ll ask to swipe your card. This is just so we can keep track of how many students we’re serving. U students will never be charged for entry, which makes the UMFA a great place to pass time between classes. It’s a beautiful, quiet sanctuary to explore and decompress.

(This desk is also where you can sign in your car if you are in our parking lot).

11Located right near the desk, and before you enter the galleries, is our cafe. It’s a great place for lunch, a snack, or coffee and tea. With tables, chairs, outlets, and access to the U’s wifi, it makes a nice place to study or just hang out between classes.
12 If you want to come and wander our galleries, once you’re past the desk, there’s no right way to do this. You can take our stairs or our elevator straight to the second floor, or you can stay on the first floor for awhile.

13 There’s no wrong way to explore the museum, no right place to start. There are maps and guides to current exhibitions at our front desk and on our website to help you make use of your time.

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We hope that knowing what to expect might put you at ease when it comes to visiting the UMFA. Museums shouldn’t feel intimidating, but sometimes they do, and our goal for the month of April is to break down some of the myths we might have about museums, and to reveal ways that the UMFA can play an active part in life on campus and beyond.

Tell us: what are some of the myths you know about museums? What questions do you have about coming to the museum as a visitor?

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2 comments

  1. Pingback: Museum Myth Monday: It’s Weird to Come Alone / A Museum Is No Place To Just Hang Out | Utah Museum of Fine Arts

  2. Pingback: Museum Myth Monday: Museums are Cool | Utah Museum of Fine Arts

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