BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures Moves to New Facility

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 6 August 2015

BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures recently relocated to a modern facility in Provo, Utah.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

Article Highlights

  • Because of the museum’s growth, a move was necessary.
  • The exhibitions are still curated by the students.
  • Sacred Stories, the museum’s first exhibition at its new digs, celebrates the museum’s rich history and challenges visitors to better know their own peoples and cultures.

“The age of Allen Hall was the primary reason for moving.” —Paul Savast, director of the BYU Museum of Peoples and Cultures

PROVO, UTAH

Brigham Young University’s venerable Museum of Peoples and Cultures has gotten a bit younger.

After more than three decades of residency at the Church-owned school’s Allen Hall, the museum was recently relocated to a more spacious, more modern facility just north of Lavell Edwards Stadium at 2201 North Canyon Road.

“The age of Allen Hall was the primary reason for moving,” said Paul Savast, the museum’s director.

Indeed, Allen Hall was not constructed to house a public museum, let alone serve as the primary repository for BYU’s archaeological, anthropological, and ethnographic collections. It was built in the 1930s as a student dormitory and then adapted in the 1960s for use as a language training mission—a precursor to the missionary training center. The museum began occupying the building in 1981.

Over time, the museum has become increasingly popular with students and other patrons even as the school’s collections have grown. It was time for a move. The new facility offers increased space for exhibitions, artifact storage, and classrooms.

“It also allows us to have better control of our environment,” said Brother Savast. “We now have much better control of things such as humidity.”

While its surroundings have changed, the museum’s mission remains the same: protecting the school’s ever-growing archaeological collections while providing learning and career-development opportunities for BYU students.

“Our exhibitions,” said Brother Savast, “are still developed and curated by our students.”

Yes, the museum serves undergraduate and graduate students from the archaeology and anthropology departments. But business, communications, history, and English students, to name a few, also take advantage of the museum’s many hands-on opportunities.

BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures also remains a community museum. The facility hosts student family home evening events each month, and there are special programs for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and Girl Scouts. Young families can also enjoy “Mornings at the Museum” programs that teach youngsters about the world’s peoples and cultures.

Sacred Stories, the museum’s first exhibition at its new digs, celebrates the museum’s rich history and challenges visitors to better know their own peoples and cultures.

Additional information about the museum and its many events is found at mpc.byu.edu.

Sacred Stories is the maiden exhibition at the new home of BYU’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures. Photo by Jason Swensen.

This preserved specimen is one of many items from BYU’s archaeological collections on display at the school’s Museum of Peoples and Cultures. Photo by Jason Swensen.