Story by Kourtney Mather
After years of planning and much anticipation, the Natural History Museum of Utah opened to the public this weekend at the Rio Tinto Center.
The NHMU has many new exhibits in the 51,000 square foot center ranging in topic from the ancient Lake Bonneville that covered most of the state of Utah, to a storytelling area featuring Utah’s Native American tribes and their histories.
The broad spectrum of topics and exhibits at the museum, however, was no accident. Becky Menlove, the exhibit director for the museum, explained that they wanted to “create very interdisciplinary exhibits so that you’re not learning about rocks at a particular time, but also about plants…paleontology…hydrology…because that’s really how we learn when we’re out in nature ourselves.”
Of course, no natural history museum would be complete without a dinosaur exhibit. The display features “one of the largest duck-billed dinosaurs to be mounted anywhere in the U.S.,” explained Randy Irmis, the curator of paleontology for the museum. “We’ve tried to lay it out as it was found in the field to give people a sense of what it’s like when you find these fossils.”
Todd Schliemann, the design architect for the building, spent years studying the geography of Utah to create the perfect design for the building in relation to the unique landscapes of Utah.
“When you walk into it, yes you feel a little small,” Schliemann explained, “but maybe you also feel like you’re in a cathedral and the space is beginning to lift you up and getting you ready to learn…”
The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with special extended hours on Wednesdays when it is open until 9 p.m. For more information visit http://www.nhmu.utah.edu.