MOA Founding Director James A. Mason Passes Away
Dr. James A. Mason, former Dean of the BYU College of Fine Arts & Communications, and Founding Director of the BYU Museum of Art (MOA), passed away on May 15, 2014.
Although he grew up across the street from the Springville Art Museum, his creative energy initially turned towards music. An accomplished performer, conductor and internationally recognized music educator, he edited an important music journal, served two years as president of the Music Educators National Conference, and founded the Utah Valley Symphony Orchestra. At BYU, he served as chairman of the music department before being appointed Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications in 1982.
Shortly after taking leadership of the college, Mason recognized that the University’s art collection, which had become dramatically more valuable in recent years, had neither the staff nor the facilities to protect and care for it properly. “I have been eager to use the art collection to provide an important ingredient in the broad education of all of our university students,” Mason wrote in a March 1987 memo to then-BYU President Jeffrey R. Holland. “This requires an art museum where our aesthetic treasures can be preserved, restored, and displayed under conditions that invite contemplation.”
MOA staff, patrons and advocates will forever be indebted to Mason — for his indomitable spirit and the foundation he laid for the stunning legacy we enjoy at the MOA today. Inspired by his faithful quest for excellence, the MOA has provided rich intellectual and cultural opportunities for the BYU campus and the greater community over the past two decades.
“Indeed,” wrote former BYU President Rex Lee to Mason before the MOA’s 1993 dedication, “without your leadership, vision, and energy, the museum project would never have been possible.”