Take a look inside the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum in Logan and you’ll learn about the founding families of Cache Valley, settlers of the area and how they lived their lives.
The furniture of one of Brigham Young’s daughters, Caroline Luna; a sleigh owned by the prominent Thatcher family; a blacksmith exhibit; pioneer clothing; hundreds of small artifacts, like cameras and toys — it’s all here at the DUP Museum, 160 N. Main St., a satellite museum of the International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.
But the Logan museum is in need of a facelift both on the maintenance and educational front, according to two members of the museum’s board of directors.
Nancy Lincoln, a member of the board, said the museum was much different when she moved here in 2002.
“They had a different approach. There was a lot of clutter,” she said. “I don’t mean to disparage the people before; they worked very hard on the museum. But now it’s time for the museum to meet a higher standard.”
Sharon Johnson, chairwoman of the board of directors, said efforts to modernize the museum were jump-started when it elected a new board of directors two years ago.
“From there, we were able to start making changes,” Johnson said. “Many people did not know we were here, and we really wanted to make an effort to let people know we’re here. Then, once they arrive, to have it be an experience where they could really gain something.”
Some of the museum changes have come already.
For one thing, it expanded its hours to winter and spring — open every Wednesday of the week until Memorial Day, when it goes to summer hours.
Then there’s the new blacksmith exhibit, showing different tools from the Utah pioneer era, funded by the Utah Humanities Council. Museum staff have been taking classes to learn how to better preserve the artifacts and present the exhibits.
Johnson touted these changes while saying there’s more work to be done to the museum.
Johnson and board members hope to bring out some more artifacts and information about Cache Valley’s settling.
“We’re always looking to improve our exhibit, but from here on out, the changes will probably be smaller as far as new exhibits,” Johnson said.
Johnson said many exhibits have note cards with information on them; other exhibits have more information on bigger display boards.
“There are certainly other exhibits that need to be researched, so we’re always continuing to improve,” she said.
Museum staff also hopes to digitize more than 300 early settlers’ portraits sitting in the building’s basement.
Maintenance is another issue on the mind of Johnson and board members. The room the museum is housed in, a former courtroom, is facing electrical issues and it has been without a working air conditioner for a while.
“Last year, we had people come and enjoy our museum, but the warm air was a little bit of a concern,” Johnson said “So the air conditioning will be awesome when it’s operational so people can come in an enjoy the exhibits.”
To solve these issues, museum officials have gone before the Cache County Council to ask for thousands of dollars in Recreation, Arts, Parks, and Zoos tax funding to use for museum maintenance and daily operations. The council approved $5,000 in RAPZ money for them last year.
“The county has been very generous to us to help us with RAPZ funding to help our museum be operational and open to the public,” Johnson said.
Greg Merrill, chairman of the Cache County Council, said a committee is now looking over RAPZ requests and will make its recommendations soon on which projects should be approved by the council.
The County Council chairman talked about the importance of the county supporting the museum.
“The Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum is a great asset to the community, and in most cases, any funding that comes from the RAPZ tax, that’s one of the main criteria — is it an asset to the community?” Merrill said. “The DUP, we feel, is a great asset that will improve tourism and education for a lot of students.”
Merrill has been to the museum and likes what he sees.
“The museum has made significant improvement over the last year,” he said. “Their objective is to continue to make improvements.”
Aside from funding, getting the word out that the museum is there is another challenge, Johnson said.
“Really, there’s not another museum in Logan that just deals with Cache Valley history,” Johnson said. “There’s not another resource like the one we provide.”
She hopes when all the changes to the museum are made, it becomes “a must-see stop for visitors.”
“We want people to come away with an appreciation for what the early settlers went through, how rugged and difficult it was to settle Cache Valley,” Johnson said. “We want people to realize these early settlers created a great legacy for us here. Their vision established the Logan we have today.”
The Logan DUP museum hours from now until May are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays.
From June through August, the hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday to Friday, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Anyone is welcome to schedule an appointment with the museum by calling (435)752-5139.