Salt Lake City Arts & Culture
During their western trek, the Mormon Pioneers kept spirits high by singing and dancing at the end of a long day. And their enthusiasm for music and culture didn't end when they reached their new home. Salt Lake City's populace has always supported the classical arts, and in recent years the city has shown an increasing appreciation for modern and cosmopolitan fine art as well. Dozens of museums and galleries showcase local and regional artists' works, and the city is home to modern dance troupes and other avant-garde performance artists.
In 2002, the most recent addition to the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center (138 W 300 South St) opened after a donation from local philanthropist I.J. Wagner. The architecturally stunning facility hosts dance, theater, and music performances throughout the year.
Insider's Guide: The Best of Arts & Culture in Salt Lake City
Salt Lake City is home to the award-winning Utah Symphony and Utah Opera Company. In a unique partnership, the organizations share a common board. The symphony performs in Maurice Abravanel Concert Hall (123 W South Temple) between the Salt Palace Convention Center and Temple Square (Main and North, South, and West Temple sts). An oversized metallic staircase encased in gold leaf and a towering glass sculpture, from renowned glassmaker Dale Chihuly, dominate the concert hall's lobby.
The Utah Opera Company shares Capitol Theatre (50 W 200 South St) with Ballet West, one of the West's most lauded dance troupes. The renaissance-styled theater was home to vaudeville shows and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir (at the Tabernacle on Temple Square) is a 350 voice-strong choir that has performed in the historic Tabernacle on Temple Square since 1929 and has the longest running continual radio broadcast in the country. Free 30-minute concerts, broadcast live nationally, are held every Sunday at 9 am. Audience guests should arrive early because the Tabernacle doors close at 8:45 am.
The choir also holds regular public rehearsals on Thursday nights. The organ that accompanies the famous chorus is comprised of more than 11,000 individual pipes, making it one of the world's most complex musical instruments.
The celebrity-studded Sundance Film Festival is centered in Park City every January, but nearly half of the movies are screened in Salt Lake City and other communities. You can avoid the invasion of "people in black" who descend on the mountain village from Los Angeles by viewing Sundance movies outside of Park City. And much of the festival hype dies down after the first week.
The Salt Lake Gallery Association hosts a gallery stroll on the third Friday of every month, with extended hours and refreshments at participating galleries. If you don't happen to be in Salt Lake on a Gallery Stroll evening, you can always recreate the stroll by visiting the Gallery Association's Web site for a list of participating properties.
Several local theater companies offer nightly performances ranging from serious drama to improvisational comedies. The Salt Lake Acting Company (168 W 500 North) produces contemporary works and irreverent plays about the local culture. Hale Center Theater (333 S Decker Lake Dr) has family-friendly productions in a theater-in-the-round setting. Off Broadway Theater Company (272 S Main) offers comedy and improvisation. And Pioneer Theater Company (300 S 1400 East) is a professional company in residence at the University of Utah.
Perhaps the most celebrated piece of modern art in Utah is Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty, situated in an isolated corner of the Great Salt Lake. Smithson completed the project in 1970, and it's now praised as his masterwork and a paragon of the modernistic earthworks that he championed.
The jetty is comprised of black basalt rocks and juts out 1,500 feet into the shallow rose-colored waters, only to curl back on itself creating a primeval spiral. When the lake is low, it's possible to walk the entire 15-foot-wide jetty, but the waters rise and fall frequently and it's sometimes completely submerged.
In addition to its art, Salt Lake City features some stunning architecture and landmarks, both religious and otherwise. Go to the next page to learn about the city's architecture and landmarks.