The building which is now the St. George Art Museum was originally built in the 1930's to store beet seed for a sugar beet factory. The Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, after determining that sugar beet seed was a good "cash" crop, built the building in 1934, using it along with the already existing opera house and another building which is now the Social Hall. This was the start of a business that would last for nearly fifty years.
Sugar beets were planted in the Washington Fields and Bloomington in the fall. Due to the mild-winter climate in Utah's Dixie, the crop could stay in the ground over winter. In the spring, the plants would be harvested and hauled by horse-drawn wagons to the factory where they would undergo a process to remove the seed which was sorted, cleaned, treated for disease and stored in bins.
Warehouse No. 3, now the St. George Art Museum, was where the seed was stored and later shipped by hauling the bags of seed to Cedar City where it was sent by train to sugar beet plants in West Jordan, Utah; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Montana, and Washington. After 1955 the seed was all shipped with trucking firms until the sugar company closed in 1979.
The building was vacant after 1979 and became home to mice and pigeons and an eyesore to the community. Through the vision, generosity, and hard work of the community and city officials, the ultimate dream to restore the building as part of the St. George's historic district was realized in 1997 when it became the beautiful new home of the Art Museum with Glen Blakley as its first director.
The St. George Art Museum celebrated ten years in the Pioneer Center for the Arts in 2007. The year leading up to that milestone was dedicated to raising funds to buy ten new pieces of art with the initiative to fill Ten Empty Frames with Art That Goes Beyond.
The year 2017 featured special events and exhibits to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the St. George Art Museum's beautiful home in the Pioneer Center for the Arts. Our 20th Anniversary Goal, to receive 20 gifts of fine art, raise $20,000 and to host 20 special events, Twenty for 20, was met and exceeded!
In the past two years the museum continued to present exhibits, changing approximately 3 times per year, that featured the Permanent Collection, local artists, art of Utah and the west, and thought provoking and inspiring art from around the nation and the world.
2020 and beyond will be an exciting new time for the museum as a new director and curator is selected. The museum will enter the new decade with a fresh set of eyes and a direction that will continue for years to come.