Utah art museum likely to be torn down, rebuilt in new Salt Lake City plan, director says

Utah art museum likely to be torn down, rebuilt in new Salt Lake City plan, director says

SALT LAKE CITY — It appears that Smith Entertainment Group and local governments are leaning toward demolishing and rebuilding an arts museum as a part of sweeping changes proposed for downtown Salt Lake City, but those who oversee the museum say it may not be a bad thing.

Current plans include a “likelihood” the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, commonly referred to as UMOCA, will be torn down and rebuilt within its existing block as a part of a “sports, entertainment, culture and convention district” surrounding the Delta Center, according to an update Wednesday from Laura Allred Hurtado, the museum’s executive director.

However, she and others in UMOCA’s leadership say they support a new building and a potential 0.5% sales tax increase tied to the project, which the Salt Lake City Council will vote on this summer.

“This is kind of a strange wrench thrown at us. While it is destabilizing, it’s actually a step toward the future, so we’re really excited about that,” Hurtado said during an online open house about the building’s future.

Salt Lake County owns the property that the UMOCA rents. Smith Entertainment Group executives said last month they will honor the county’s decision on the future of both the museum and Abravanel Hall, which were built next to each other in the 1970s.

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said she would like to see Abravanel Hall “in its present form.” Nearly 45,000 people have signed an online petition calling on project leaders to preserve the building, which is estimated to cost about $200 million.

Jared Steffensen, UMOCA’s curator of exhibitions, said the concert hall and museum’s futures will likely be handled differently as the project comes together.

“Those decisions will be made separately,” he said.

This story will be updated.