The term “Renaissance Woman” gets thrown around quite a bit, but it truly applies to Salt Lake’s Liz Lambson. Lambson is an accomplished artist, musician, actor, and writer. She is also the Executive Director of the Utah Black History Museum. The museum is unique not only for the trove of artifacts that have been curated within it, but also for the fact that it is completely mobile. Lambson quips that as Executive Director, she does “all things needed to get this thing on the road.”
The traveling exhibit was envisioned by Lex Scott, former leader of the Black Lives Matter Utah Chapter. Scott wanted to create a museum that could go wherever it was needed in the community, including schools, festivals, and businesses. She purchased an old Blue Bird school bus, and the project began. In 2020, Scott contacted a group of artists, including Lambson, to paint the outside of the bus. The group spent a year getting the bus and museum display ready for travel.
In February 2021 the Utah Black History Museum was ready to hit the road. “Traveling with the Museum is pretty intense,” notes Lambson. The process involves retrieving the bus from its storage lot, picking up the artifacts from their climate-controlled facility, then traveling to the day’s destination and setting up the full display. It takes a network of volunteers to make the museum possible, and Lambson says they are always looking for more help. Those interested in joining the team can find more information on the volunteer page of the museum website at ubhm.org.
The exhibit is a journey through both Utah and America’s Black history. Vintage photographs and artifacts intermingle with books by Black authors and colorful artwork, some pieces created by Lambson herself. “One of our goals is to highlight Black excellence,” she says. Even the exterior of the bus serves as a history lesson by highlighting notable Black figures throughout Utah’s history. It is impactful both from both a historical and celebratory perspective.
If you want to visit the Utah Black History Museum exhibit, Lambson advises to check the website, Instagram, or Facebook page for the latest updates. In December 2022 through January 2023 the exhibit will be on display in the The Leonardo Museum. They are searching for a permanent home, so catching the museum in its current mobile iteration will certainly be a one-of-a-kind experience.
Until a brick-and-mortar location is secured, the bus will continue touring around Salt Lake and beyond. We are thankful to Lambson and the Utah Black History Museum team for sharing their story, and for showcasing the history of Black culture in Utah.