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'I am honored ... to be a part of that longstanding legacy': Utah Museum of Contemporary Art announces new executive director

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Museum of Contemporary Art's board of trustees announced that Laura Allred Hurtado will serve as the executive director of the museum beginning April 1.

Hurtado is coming to the UMOCA from the Church History Museum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where she worked as the global acquisitions art curator.

"During her time at the Church History Museum, Laura has been instrumental in identifying and developing well-received exhibitions for our patrons," Alan Johnson, director of the Church History Museum said in a press release. "This experience, along with her innate passion for excellence and knack for innovation, make her an excellent fit to lead the UMOCA team."

Hurtado has built an impressive resume thus far in her career. She curated for many museums before her new appointment to the UMOCA, including the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, CUAC Contemporary, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Nox Contemporary, the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University, the Granary Art Center, Riverside Church and the Rio Gallery, as well as at the UMOCA.

"Play Me, I'm Yours" exhibit in front of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art building in downtown Salt Lake City.
"Play Me, I'm Yours" exhibit in front of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art building in downtown Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 14, 2012.
Laura Seitz, Deseret News

"Laura has the combination of knowledge and enthusiasm which will assure that UMOCA continues as a unique, vibrant showcase for contemporary art in Utah," UMOCA board president Val Antczak said. "She has been an integral part of the Utah art community for years while following the contemporary art scene across borders and cultures, and will build on our long history of bringing cutting edge contemporary art exhibitions to Utah."

UMOCA was founded in 1931 and is an important part of Salt Lake's downtown cultural scene. Its mission, as stated on its website, is to advance and elevate the community of contemporary arts and culture and establish Utah as a leading voice for the spirit of innovation, experimentation and dialogue surrounding the issues of our time.

UMOCA's board of trustees said they are confident Hurtado is the right person to push this legacy forward. Hurtado has a clear understanding of what UMOCA represents in the community and what it will continue to represent under her supervision.

"For nearly 90 years, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art has been an aesthetic force and community leader in Utah and beyond. I am honored and humbled to be a part of that longstanding legacy and to join a strong, passionate, hardworking and committed team — of trustees, staff, visitors, volunteers and supporters," Hurtado said. "With a focus on experimentation, exploration, innovation and community, UMOCA is a refuge for many — a space of community that creates critical dialogue around those issues that matter most."