Keeping Art Alive, One Date Night at a Time  

When was the last time you had a night out with your partner that looked like this: a semi-private, interpretive gallery tour, followed by dinner inside said gallery, capped off by a hands-on, art project? Yeah, I never have either. And after more than two months of cancelled fun, an evening like that sounds like a dream. Well, over the next three weekends, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art (UMOCA)—which has been closed to the public since mid-March—will be making date night dreams come true with Date Night at the Museum. “The reasons for this event are many, from trying to recoup some of the admission fees we’ve lost since the museum has been closed [due to COVID-19] to engaging our community to simply reminding people that we’re still here,” says Zachary Norman, UMOCA marketing and communications director. 

Each Date Night at the Museum evening—held live at UMOCA (20 S. West Temple) on June 13, 20 and 27—begins with what event organizers are calling an “Art Fitness Tour,” led by UMOCA Curator of Exhibitions, Jared Steffenson. “The idea behind the tours is to exercise participants ability to not only look at but also think and speak about contemporary art,” Norman says. Exhibitions currently on display at UMOCA that will be a part of the Art Fitness Tour include: Guerilla Girls, a collection of pieces by an anonymous group artists whom bill themselves as “intersectional feminists who fight for human rights for all people and all genders” in the Main Gallery presented by Diane & SamStewart; a one-woman show by Weber State University visiting assistant professor Devin Harclerode titled Boundaries; Mapping It Out, three-dimensional, collage-like paintings and photographs by Jane Christensen; and Buffalo Boy, a video series by Adrian Stimson parodying Native American and cowboy the stereotypes perpetuated by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show.

Laziz Kitchen will provide dinner for UMOCA’s Date Night events, served at tables for two—spaced  at least six feet, of course—in the Main Gallery presented by Diane & Sam Stewart.The evening concludes with a hands-on art project: stamp printmaking on June 13, minimalist collage on June 20 and drawing on June 27. Tickets are $200 per couple and, to ensure social distancing, each event is limited to just five couples. Mask wearing is encouraged. If this unheard-of date-night opportunity sounds as amazing to you as it promises to be, make haste. As of this writing, only one couple ticket remained for June 13, two for June 27 and June 20 was sold out.

Date Night at the Museum, however, is not the only opportunity UMOCA is providing for people to immerse themselves art during the museum’s temporary COVID-19 closure. Examples of the programming the staff there have created over the last two challenging months includes 360 degree virtual exhibition openings; Lawn Gnomes 2020, a continually growing public art exhibit where local artists use their front lawns as gallery space; more than 30, hands-on art activities for kids and families as part of Art Everyday, posted both to UMOCA’s website and on the museum’s #arteverydayumoca social media channels; and a partnership with Utah poet Alex Caldiero to share—both on social media and on a series of banners in front of the museum—poems and drawings from Caldiero’s book Poetry is Wanted Here.

The event that UMOCA staff are most looking forward to, however, is the reopening of its brick-and-mortar home in downtown Salt Lake City. Plans are underway to do just that sometime in July, health and safety concerns allowing. Find out the latest by visiting or on social media, #utahmoca.


Written by Melissa Fields