Architecture Plays a Vital Part in New Museum’s Appeal

Article by Meish Roundy

The Natural History Museum of Utah opened its doors to the public Friday at the Rio Tinto Center. While the museum features 10 galleries celebrating everything from Utah’s diverse landscape to its people, the building itself as described by Todd Schliemann, the design architect for the structure, “symbolizes the beauty and magnitude of the state’s unique landscapes.”

Beginning construction in 2005 it has taken six years to build the large 51,000 square foot museum. Schliemann said regarding the building’s size that “it has no scale. It could be a very small rock outcrop or it could be fifty stories tall. Until you’re a person in it, you don’t know how big it is.”

Some of the other architectural highlights include:

  • A fourth floor terrace with indoor- outdoor interpretive space enabling visitors to directly experience weather and atmosphere.
  • A three-story tall glass case called the Collections Wall, which highlights more than 500 objects from various research collections.
  • A solar paneled roof that provides 25 percent of the energy needed to power the museum.
  • The knowledge that more than 25 of the buildings structural materials were made from recycled sources and that 75 percent of the buildings construction waste was recycled.

The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and has an admittance fee of 9 dollars for an adult and between 6 and 7 dollars for a youth. The museum will be closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. (