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Sugar House Journal

Interactive field trips through The Living Museum of Sugar House bring area to life

Jun 01, 2020 12h20 ● By Drew Crawford

Ceramicist Clayton Keyes explaining how he made the artwork. (Photo courtesy Living Museum of Sugar House)

By Drew Crawford | [email protected]

Residents of Sugar House recently got the exciting opportunity to participate in The Living Museum of Sugar House’s first interactive field trips series.  

An interactive field trip is an opportunity for community members and those interested in the city’s history to explore the town and discover architecture, art, locations and people, among other things. 

The first field trip took place May 3 to May 10 and presented an opportunity to explore the art exhibit “A Century of Ceramics” built by ceramicist Clayton Keyes at the Eccles House of Clay. Instructions given on the Facebook page invited participants to explore the exhibit at their own pace, read the information, and then share the experiences they had. 

Locals who went made sure to practice social distancing and posted their thoughts about the artwork on the Museum’s Instagram page. 

The second field trip was a scavenger hunt that explored the iconic Monument Plaza which was built in 1930 to commemorate Salt Lake’s efforts to manufacture beet sugar. Those who went were encouraged to look beyond the obvious and focus on the smaller details that they might not usually notice on a typical visit there. 

Items on the hunt included the sugar beet decorated storm drain covers, the Lincoln Highway signposts, and the granite slab that used to be outside of South East Furniture Company and was preserved by the direction of The Sugar House Community Council. 

Meggie Troili, the creator of the museum, is excited about different ways in which the museum can encourage participation.

“Right now we’re just trying things out and we’re gauging the communities interaction with our Facebook. It seems like people understand what we’re doing,” Troili said.

“The field trips I think are a way for the community to participate in the museum.” 

While the first two field trips were more open-ended in nature, the upcoming ones will give more tasks on how to engage with the history.

“The next field trips are going to be more interactive. We’re going to ask people to go to Hidden Hollow and to activate their senses in a really cool way while they’re there, just explore it in a more meaningful way as opposed to just a passive way and be a part of it and the museum experience,” Troili said.

“The more people know about the community, the more that they will care about it, take care of it, and participate in it.”

While the museum has had a small conceptual beginning with its events it has a passionate vision behind it to grow into something prominent in the community.

“If we can encourage people to care about Sugar House as much as some of the louder voices in Sugar House express that they do, then we all have the chance of being a stronger community together in the future,” Troili said.

“Our hope is to actually create programming where we’re more involved with community future planning through the Sugar House Community Council and the chair of the arts and culture committee and so this museum can actually partner with them and ensure that the future of our community is vibrant and equitable and culturally rich,” Troili said. 

“Right now we’re just trying stuff out, and we’re trying to get the community just aware of us so that we can get there together.”

The Living Museum of Sugar House originally started out as an abstract concept for Troili to put her skills of bringing together community, history and culture. 

The museum, which launched online in February, describes itself on its page as “an idea, a way of seeing, experiencing, and interacting with the neighborhood of Sugar House.”

According to the page, the museum “is not housed in a building with operating hours and fees, instead, it is always open and always free, and you are a part of it. In other words, Sugar House is the museum. This Living Museum project is a community response to the shifts and changes in the neighborhood’s culture, identity, and urban landscape—the result of drastic redevelopment efforts.”

To interact with and participate in the museum experience follow Living Museum of Sugar House on Instagram, or like it on Facebook. There you will be able to find information about the next field trips including June and July field trips that support local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any Sugar House restaurants that want to participate should contact Troili at [email protected]