The Museum of Peoples and Cultures exists to serve the academic mission of BYU and care for the anthropological, archaeological, and ethnographic collections in the custody of the University.
The Museum of Peoples and Cultures is BYU’s Teaching Museum, inspiring students to life-long learning and service and mentoring them in collections-focused activities that reinforce BYU ideals of education as spiritually strengthening, intellectually enlarging, and character building. These activities concurrently serve the scholarly community, the LDS community, and/or the general public and aspire to the highest standards of stewardship and public trust.
The Museum supports this mission by:
- Collecting, preserving, and caring for material objects that document the diversity of human experiences and reflect the multi-faceted fabric of the world’s cultures past and present
- Providing a professional learning environment for BYU students through a broad range of instruction in both formal and informal settings; through programs that enable student participation; and through example and role-modeling
- Facilitating teaching and research on peoples and cultures by BYU faculty, staff, students, and by members of the scholarly community in peer institutions
- Creating new knowledge through scholarly research including field activities, research, and exhibitions
- Educating museum visitors about peoples and cultures as appropriate to the Museum’s holdings and collecting scope
Brief History of Museums at BYU
Museum efforts at Brigham Young Academy began as early as 1879, when James E. Talmage was appointed curator of the Brigham Young Academy Museum. We know from his notes that the museum collected natural history, geological, and archaeological objects. By the 1930s, BYU’s museum collections were located in Room D of the Education Building (now the Provo City Library). Over time, the original museum collections were split up. The University now has four museums - the Paleontology Museum, the Museum of Art, the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum, and the Museum of Peoples and Cultures (MPC). The MPC is Brigham Young University’s archaeological and anthropological museum.
History of the Museum of Peoples and Cultures
BYU’s archaeology department was established in 1946. In part, the formation of the department and the subsequent field work necessitated the opening of a separate archaeology museum. In those early years, the archaeology museum was located in the lower floor of the Eyring Science Center. In 1961 it was moved to the bottom floor of the Maeser Building, and in 1981 it moved to Allen Hall and was given its current name.
Previous even to Allen Hall, the roots of today’s collections were stored and displayed in the Lewis Building on Provo Center Street (no longer standing), the Academy Building on University Avenue (now the Provo City Library), and the Maeser Builing on “campus hill.”
The museum has continued to grow and improve over the years. Recent awards include a State Certificate Award for Excellence in All Areas of Museum Operations as well as the 2011 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History. Since 2000, the MPC has received over $250,000 in Federal and State grants for various research projects. In the same time period, $1.5 million in object and cash donations have significantly increased the quality of the collections.
All exhibits at the MPC are designed and installed by students in BYU’s museum certificate program. Public programs, like our popular date nights and FHEs, are also planned by student employees and volunteers.
Allen Hall Building History
Allen Hall was built in the late 1930s as a men’s dormitory. During World War II it became women’s housing. In the 1960s the building was adapted for use as a Language Training Mission (a pre-cursor to the MTC). This varied history is evident in the structure of the building. The galleries are located in what used to be the common and dining rooms when the building was student housing. The classroom was the kitchen, and the majority of offices were dorm rooms. The museum occupied the building since 1981 until it moved in 2015 to our current location on Canyon Road.
Dia de los Muertos
Our annual Dia de los Muertos celebration was Monday, November 1st. Face painting, live music, crafts, and fun treats all contributed to the unforgettable evening. Here's what The Daily Universe wrote about this event.
Professionalism in Cultural Resources Consulting Award
One of our outstanding faculty in the archaeology department, Rich Talbot, was awarded the Professionalism in Cultural Resources Consulting Award by PLPCO (Utah's Public Lands Policy Coordinating Office).
Night at the Museums
Another annual favorite, this year's Night at the Museums offered visitors the chance to solve a riddle and collect a sticker at each of BYU's museums. Our student researchers and employees even presented on various collections, projects, and technology at the museum!
Artifact or Artifice?
Featured on both campus and local news channels, read about how one of our students analyzed microscopic details to identify forgeries as part of her fascinating research project in the museum's Mesoamerican greenstone collection.
Every month the Museum sends out an electronic newsletter highlighting upcoming events, programs, and other exciting news. To be added onto our email list and receive our monthly emails, please submit your email below.
IS THE MUSEUM OPEN ON SATURDAYS?
No, we are only open during the week. Our hours during the school year are:
Monday - Friday : 9am - 5pm
Closed Saturday and Sunday
HOW DO I SCHEDULE A TOUR?
HOW DO I FIND OUT ABOUT UPCOMING EVENTS?
Please visit the Programs and Events section of our web page. All programs and events will be listed with information as the dates are solidified.
I HAVE AN ARTIFACT I WOULD LIKE TO DONATE TO THE MUSEUM. HOW CAN I DONATE IT?
To donate objects and artifacts email our registrar at email@example.com. Please include pictures of the artifact, the location of its origin, the date of the object and any other important information about the artifact so that we can catalogue it appropriately. *We cannot accept artifacts without this information.
DOES THE MUSEUM ACCEPT DONATIONS?
Yes. Monetary donations can be placed in our donation box in the foyer of the museum or online at give.byu.edu/mpc.
IS PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED IN THE EXHIBIT?
Yes, photography is allowed. You are free to take pictures in the exhibit. Don’t forget to add our hashtag: #mpc.