Layton Heritage Museum - a Small Town Museum in Utah with a Rich Cultural Collection
By Andrew Regan
Located thirty miles south of Salt Lake City, the town of Layton, Utah, is named after Christopher Layton, a famous Mormon coloniser. Its self-proclaimed mission statement is to, "provide services and opportunities, in partnership with the community, which enhance the quality of life." In 2004, the population of Layton was estimated at a little over sixty thousand people; but despite its small nature, there is an abundance of fun attractions in Layton to excite visitors.
The town's foremost cultural spot is the Layton Heritage Museum. Although the building of the museum began in 1976, it was not opened until 1980 and celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday last year. Since its inception, the museum has made its goal the preservation and exhibition of artefacts that chart the history and development of communities in north Davis County, in which Layton is the largest city.
Established as recently as 1852, Davis County underwent a rapid transformation from its very beginning; with the advent of the Utah Central Railroad in 1870 and the Hill Air Force Base in north Davis County during World War II, the civilian population exploded. In 1940, the population just exceeded 16,000; however by 1950 this figure had doubled, and then doubled again by 1960. In 2000, there were 239,000 residents in the county. Therefore, the importance of documenting the enormous cultural, recreational and economic changes that have been experienced in the last hundred years in the region is paramount to preserving its historical integrity, and this is exactly what the Layton Heritage Museum consistently aims to provide.
At the time of its opening in 1980, the museum possessed only a minute collection of Native American relics, as well as a few remnants of the pioneer age. Its expansion has been on such a scale that, presently, it is home to over 2100 artefacts, 1890 historical documents and newspapers, and 3357 photographs. The majority of its collection dates from the turn of the twentieth century, when Layton and north Davis County were still rural, agricultural areas. The heritage museum is also well situated near the Utah Central Railroad, once again affirming its importance in the history of the region.
The newest feature of the Layton Heritage Museum is its Digital Exhibit Hall. Visitors will find pictures of museum exhibits, as well as scans of photographs and maps on its website. Available collections currently include historical images of Layton, photos of the heritage museum's permanent exhibition of the Layton Old Town, as well as pictures of its 2006 featured exhibit, The Business of Businesses, which charts the history of businesses in the Layton/Kaysville region. The LeConte Stewart Landscape Art Competition is another exciting feature at the Layton heritage Museum: this annual competition is named after the famed Utah landscape painter LeConte Stewart, and aims to encourage young landscape painters in the region. This clearly shows the Layton Heritage museum's unwavering commitment to documenting the changing history of Layton and north Davis County, making it a worthy and valuable historical asset, and with a Hilton Garden Inn located just down the road, it's conveniently located for out of town visitors.
Andrew Regan is an online journalist who enjoys socialising at his local Edinburgh rugby club.
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