Skip to main content

Sugar House Journal

Sugar House stories, artifacts, will be forever archived in living museum

Jan 27, 2020 11h42 ● By Drew Crawford

The Draw that leads to Sugar House Park. (Spencer W. Belnap/City Journals)

By Drew Crawford | [email protected]

As previously described in last month’s Sugar House Journal, Sugar House is seeing a lot of historic changes with development. 

The addition of new buildings and the changing landscape has led many people in the community to think about how to best preserve the history. 

Meggie Troili who heads the Community Council Arts and Culture committee has been trying to solve this problem and has come up with the solution of creating a living museum. 

“By using the word living it describes the museum and Sugar House as dynamic and forever changing,” Troili explained. 

“The Living Museum of Sugar House is a concept really, a way of seeing, experiencing, and participating in the community in our unique individual and collectivist ways.”

Troili came up with the idea over a year ago and plans to preserve the history using various mediums such as a website, blogs, and social media pages to catalogue everything. The museum will be divided up into different sections including people themselves and their stories, local history, the ecology, urban morphology, and future hopes and dreams. 

Trioli received her graduate degree at Westminster College and has always been interested in urban planning and community art. Stephen Goldsmith who played a major role in shaping the landscape of Salt Lake City and mixed-use neighborhoods advised Trioli during her degree, helping her ideas develop. 

During her research she began to explore ways in which art and urban living overlap. 

She asked herself the question: “How can art and community engagement be critical of development and preserving history in a positive way?”

This way of thinking caused her to begin to explore how she could keep the community together in a way where they could coproduce Sugar House together. 

Combined with her background in exhibit developer working at The Leonardo and working at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts she decided to take her idea of community engagement in a novel direction. 

“I see Sugar House itself, the community, as a living museum. Sugar House is full of very unique artifacts, some of them hidden, some of them well known,” Trioli said. 

“There’s two doors next to Laurie Bray’s art studio that were part of Blue Boutiques that was torn down. Those in themselves are really beautiful artifacts that have artwork on them, but they’re hidden in a building somewhere,” Trioli said describing a piece of history that fascinates her. 

The museum will exist so that everyone can create, collect and archive pieces that are important to them in Sugar House. 

“There’s also this idea of the living museum of Sugar House is full of artists who express their love of Sugar House through poetry and art. And these are all like stuffed away in closets or drawers, or somebody knows somebody that wrote a song about Sugar House. So, we want to let people find those things in the museum and the web would be a way to highlight them and archive them,” Trioli said. 

“There’s also people that have new ideas or new thoughts that should be part of this process and the living museum would be a way to encourage and support people to be creative in our community.”

Other people who Trioli describes as archivists who are veterans in the community have been enthusiasts about collecting pieces of the past, and they will be essential to Trioli in helping curate the project. 

Overall, Trioli views her work as something that will help create conversation about everything related to Sugar House and its history while honoring it, but not clinging to it. 

“What I discovered is that with so much chaos and change happening in Sugar House residents felt like the community was out of control. My research determined that community members were seeking a stillness as a coping mechanism,” Troili said. 

“For the Sugar House community members, a still point was achieved when they were given an opportunity (to express) their urban knowledge and history of Sugar House. That’s a catalyst for this project. The living museum of Sugar House would be a tool for community members to find a still point.”

The living museum of Sugar House will open this month.