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University Announces Partnership for Stewardship of the Spiral Jetty

Robert Smithson, the Spiral Jetty, 1970. Long-term installation in Rozel Point, Box Elder  County, Utah. Collection Dia Art Foundation, New York.

Jan 12, 2012 – Collaboration will ensure the long-term preservation of Robert Smithson’s iconic artwork, the Spiral Jetty

 A community information session with participating institutions will be held Thursday, February 2, 2012, at 7 pm at the Salt Lake City Public Library

NEW YORK, NY– Dia Art Foundation will work with two Salt Lake City-based organizations, The Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) at Westminster College and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) at the University of Utah, as part of its ongoing stewardship of the Spiral Jetty. Dia, GSLI, and UMFA envision a collaboration that builds on the existing and complementary relationships between the institutions that date back to 2008.

The monumental earthwork the Spiral Jetty (1970) was created by artist Robert Smithson (1938–1973) and is located off Rozel Point in the north arm of the Great Salt Lake. Made of black basalt rocks and earth gathered from the site, the Spiral Jetty is a 15-foot-wide coil that stretches more than 1,500 feet into the lake. Its exceptional art historical importance, unique beauty, and remote location have drawn visitors and media attention from throughout Utah and around the world.

Since acquiring the earthwork as a gift from the artist’s estate in 1999, Dia has leased the land upon which the artwork sits from the State of Utah. When the lease expired earlier this year, Dia and the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands negotiated a replacement through a noncompetitive process, which was signed December 22, 2011.

As the State of Utah continues its Comprehensive Management Plan for the Great Salt Lake, Dia is formalizing collaborations with two prominent Utah-based organizations that have previously supported its stewardship efforts of the Spiral Jetty. Such local representation will ensure the concerns and needs of this iconic American artwork are met.

“Dia and the Division of Forestry, Fire, and State Lands share the same goal—maintaining the integrity of an iconic work of art,” said Philippe Vergne, director of Dia. “As Dia continues and deepens its stewardship of the Spiral Jetty, collaborations with local institutions establish a presence ‘on the ground.’ Both the UMFA and Westminster’s GSLI have been great advocates for Robert Smithson and the Spiral Jetty, and we look forward to working with them to make sure that the earthwork, as well as Smithson’s larger oeuvre, is more available to audiences.”

Within this collaboration, Westminster’s Great Salt Lake Institute will spearhead the vast biological and research opportunities that surround the Spiral Jetty. GSLI is active in promoting the Great Salt Lake as an important resource, and Westminster faculty and students frequent the Spiral Jetty as part of ongoing education, research, and preservation efforts. The GSLI’s hands-on experience and close physical proximity make it an ideal collaborator for Dia, particularly with regard to environmental issues, maintenance, and site accessibility.

“For 15 years, students and faculty from Westminster College have been traveling to the Spiral Jetty to research the science of the Great Salt Lake,” said Dr. Bonnie Baxter, director of GSLI. “What we never anticipated is how the artwork would draw us in. This is the power of land art—the Spiral Jetty makes a statement about the nature of the environment in which it exists.”

Working closely with Dia, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will develop a cultural presence for the Spiral Jetty in Salt Lake City, at the museum and on its website. Additionally, the UMFA will uphold the cultural reputation of the Spiral Jetty within Utah, collaborating with Dia on projects or curricula that develop around the artwork at the University of Utah and across the region.

Gretchen Dietrich, executive director of UMFA, said, “As the State of Utah’s official art museum, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts cares deeply about the Spiral Jetty. It is one of the most important artworks in the world, and is truly a state treasure. The UMFA is delighted to be partnering with Dia and the GSLI to ensure that the Spiral Jetty remains cared for and protected, now and forever.”

The Spiral Jetty Community Information Session:

WHAT: The Future of the Spiral Jetty: Community and Collaboration
Panel Discussion
WHO: Dr. Bonnie Baxter, director, The Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College
Gretchen Dietrich, executive director, Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Philippe Vergne, director, Dia Art Foundation
Moderator, Jennifer Napier-Pearce, journalist, KCPW
WHEN: Thursday, February 2, 2012, at 7 pm
WHERE: Main Library Auditorium, Salt Lake City Public Library
210 E 400 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

For more information, visit

Dia Art Foundation:
A nonprofit institution founded in 1974, Dia Art Foundation is renowned for initiating, supporting, presenting, and preserving art projects. Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, opened in May 2003 in Beacon, New York, on the banks of the Hudson River as the home for Dia’s distinguished collection of art from the 1960s to the present. The museum, which occupies a former Nabisco printing factory, features major installations of works by a focused group of some of the most significant artists of the last half century, as well as special exhibitions, new commissions, and diverse public and education programs. Dia:Chelsea is located on West 22nd Street in the heart of New York City’s gallery district, which it helped to pioneer. Currently open for artist lectures and readings, Dia is developing plans to expand its presence in Chelsea.

Dia also maintains long-term, site-specific projects. These include Walter De Maria’s The New York Earth Room (1977) and The Broken Kilometer (1979), Max Neuhaus’s Times Square (1977), Joseph Beuys’s 7000 Eichen (7000 Oaks) (1988), and Dan Flavin’s untitled (1996), in Manhattan; The Dan Flavin Art Institute, in Bridgehampton, New York; De Maria’s Vertical Earth Kilometer (1977), in Kassel, Germany; Robert Smithson’s the Spiral Jetty (1970), in the Great Salt Lake, Utah; and De Maria’s The Lightning Field (1977), in Quemado, New Mexico. For additional public information, visit

Utah Museum of Fine Arts:

As Utah’s official state art museum, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA) at the University of Utah is the primary cultural resource for global visual arts and culture in the region. The UMFA has long served as a bridge from the University of Utah campus to the broader community, working to engage visitors in making meaningful connections with the world of art. The Museum’s permanent collection spans more than 5,000 years of human creativity and features over 18,000 works of art. An ambitious special exhibition program and a variety of educational events are scheduled year-round to foster dialogue and discovery. The UMFA is located in the Marcia and John Price Museum Building at 410 Campus Center Drive on the campus of the University of Utah. For more information, call 801 581 7332, visit, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College:

The Great Salt Lake Institute (GSLI) is dedicated to supporting research, education, and stewardship of our unique Great Salt Lake. In achieving this mission, we foster interdisciplinary collaborations that engage students, teachers, scholars, artists, and the public.

Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster is distinguished by its unique environment for learning. Westminster prepares students for success through active and engaged learning, real world experiences, and its vibrant campus community. Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake, further enriches the college experience. For more information, visit or follow WestminsterSLC on Twitter.