Southern Utah University is one step closer to construction for the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), thanks to the Sorenson Legacy Foundation who recently granted $1 million to the SUMA project. This gift brings fundraising for the museum to nearly $9 million in cash and pledges. As the University nears its $12.5 million goal, University officials hope to break ground for SUMA in the near future.
“We are incredibly grateful to Beverley Sorenson and the Sorenson Legacy Foundation for this terrific gift,” stated SUU President Michael Benson. “Beverley’s commitment to arts education and her tireless efforts on behalf of school children everywhere will be evidenced in the daily activities of this magnificent facility.”
SUMA, currently in its final design phases will be free and open to the public. Its backers see thousands of school children taking in all the museum has to offer on a daily basis. It will also be the only art museum of its caliber in southern Utah.
SUMA is truly unique in its vision, relative to its educational scope, explains dean of the College of Performing and Visual Arts, Shauna Mendini. “SUMA will be the first nationally accredited art museum operated by students in an environment mentored by faculty and museum administrators.”
Beyond its anticipated role as “a landmark, harboring paintings by southern Utah’s beloved artist, Jim Jones,” Mendini projects “SUMA will serve to inspire and engage our entire community.” Given its unique educational mission, it can also be presumed that SUMA’s success will set a new model for arts administration and museum studies education across the nation.
SUU’s campus is currently home to the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, which has served the campus well for the past 35 years. However, as the University’s arts programming is central to the success of the arts across the community, expanded exhibition areas and learning spaces will go far to more deeply engage arts enthusiasts across the region.
Such an undertaking would have been impossible without the support of forward-thinking arts advocates, such as Beverley Sorenson, who has stepped forward to expand the region’s exposure to and appreciation for the arts.
Reece Summers, director and curator for the Braithwaite Gallery, adds, “This accredited facility will allow us to borrow art from other museums around the world, host major traveling exhibits, as well as showcase art from our permanent collections. Five exhibition galleries and the large educational space will provide year-round changing exhibits and educational programming. In this, this gift truly helps fulfill our vision for SUMA to bring the art of the world to Cedar City.”
With education as its central purpose, the 28,000 square foot Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) promises to become a major regional cultural attraction in Cedar City by providing space to exhibit, collect and preserve historic and contemporary works of art significant to the interior American West. The museum will also host art exhibitions that represent the principal artistic styles and periods of world cultures.
This state-of-the-art museum will be home to approximately 7,000 square feet of exhibition space composed of several individual galleries. These galleries will host exhibitions from around the world, be home to a special collection of the work by Utah artist, Jim Jones, and feature rotating exhibits from the permanent collections. SUMA will also regularly exhibit work of Southern Utah University’s Art and Design students and faculty, and provide a venue for displaying regional artists and juried shows.
Approximately 6,000 square feet of the museum building will be dedicated to collection storage, care, and research. The building design will have windows into the working collection spaces answering the natural curiosity of visitors about where the Museum’s collection is housed and how the art is preserved. Another 3,000 square feet will provide indoor/outdoor classroom and studio space for hands-on educational activities for K-12 school groups emphasizing the current exhibitions.
Through engaging exhibits and ongoing educational programming, SUMA will be a significant cultural resource for the people of Utah and the many visitors to our area.