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The new director of Springville's legendary art museum knows how important fine art is to the Utah County city.

"They call themselves 'Art City,' " remarked Rita Wright. "I knew it would be a place where I wouldn't have to do much convincing that art is important."

Wright, curator of art and artifacts at Salt Lake City's LDS Church History Museum, has been named the new director of the Springville Museum of Art, Springville city officials announced Thursday.

Wright, 58, of Holladay, succeeds Vern Swanson, who retired Wednesday after 32 years as director. She starts work officially on Oct. 1. "That is the community's art museum," Wright said. "They show support, they get involved."

Wright's work at the LDS Church History Museum included working with donors and serving on the museum's exhibition team. Before that, she worked for eight years at the Brigham Young University Museum of Art in Provo, working on major exhibits of the works of Carl Bloch and James Tissot.

In an interview last month, Swanson declared Wright a "brilliant" choice (though he didn't divulge her name at the time). "I'm very happy," he said. "We'll have a good successor."

One of Wright's goals is to strengthen the museum's educational outreach. She said she hopes to bring in students, to show them that "these works of art are a way for you to encounter life, think a little bit differently."

The history of the Springville Museum of Art goes back to its founding in 1903 and its incorporation in 1925.

In his tenure as director, Swanson oversaw the museum's expansion, including the creation of its sculpture garden, and built an international reputation for the museum's collection of art from the former Soviet Union. Art City museum

The Springville Museum of Art is located at 126 E. 400 South; 801-489-2727. Hours Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m; Wednesdays 10 a.m.-9 p.m., and Sundays 3-6 p.m. Closed holidays and most Mondays (except the first Monday of the month from 6-8 p.m.). Free admission.