The Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) is located on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. The museum supports research and learning initiatives that foster a learning environment for natural and state history that advocates Utah’s people, land, plants, animals, and culture.


While the idea of the museum was conceived by the University of Utah faculty in 1959, it was officially founded in the George Thomas Library in 1963 by the Utah State Legislature. With additions to their collections between 1969 and 2011 from such discoveries as the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and as many as 1.5 million acquired artifacts spanning various scientific fields of study, the museum rose to prominence for their scientific research and discoveries. The collection of artifacts at the George Thomas Library relocated in 2011 to its current home in the Rio Tinto Center where it officially became known as the Natural History Museum of Utah.

The Rio Tinto Center is located on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in the Wasatch Mountain Range. Not only is the land surrounding the Rio Tinto Center ideal for research, but the 163,000-square foot building also incorporates 42,000 square feet of local copper from the Bingham Canyon Mine that represents Utah’s natural rock formations. The architectural infusion stands as a testament to the goals and values of the museum’s attentiveness to accountability and sustainability of natural resources.

Permanent Exhibits

There are currently ten permanent exhibits

· Sky: Astronomy, weather, and climate

· Native Voices: Celebrates the history of Utah’s eight Native tribes

· Life: Studies biology, demography, ecosystems, and diversity.

· Land: Studies geological rock formations in Utah’s Middle Rocky Mountains, Basin and Range, and Colorado Plateau.

· First Peoples: Studies the prehistoric people through archaeological science.

· Gems and Minerals: Studies formation of minerals and gems.

· Great Salt Lake: Interactive studies of the Great Salt Lake and Lake Bonneville.

· Past Worlds: Studies the age-old environments as well as the people who lived through them.

· Our Backyard: Studies natural history.

· Utah Features: Studies political and social significance of local and global issues.

Educational Opportunities

Educational programs offered at the museum introduce age-appropriate tours, classes, and scientific programs to families and students. Participants will take part in in workshops, lectures, summer camps, demonstrations, and hands-on activities that incorporate science and learning opportunities.

· After School Adventure Club: Elementary students learn about natural science.

· Saturday Discovery Classes: STEAMED-based curriculum and studies.

· Scientists in the Spotlight: Participants can engage in dialogue with scientists to learn more about the research and studies at NHSU.

· Girl Scouts of Utah at the Museum: Girl Scouts can participate in activities that contribute to their badges and patches.

· Boy Scouts of Utah at the Museum: Boy Scouts can engage in activities that contribute to their badges and belt loops.

· Utah’s Animals: Engage in observation and research of the local ecosystem using some of the animals in the museum.

· Phun with Physics: Interactive experiments will explain the concepts of physics.

· Viking of the Museum: Participants can meet and interact with Vikings to learn more about the people, history, and culture.

· Hawkwatch: Birds in the Lab-Interact with specimens of birds based in Utah.

· Museum on the Move: Scientists visit schools and advance science as a field of study. Educators can also participate in the program to utilize resources in line with the Utah Public School System guidelines.

The Natural History Museum of Utah Summer Intern and Research Fellowship also provides internships and scholarships to further academic advancements for university students who are pursuing a scientific field of study. Applications are accepted yearly for the summer internship programs from January to April.

· Internship: Anthropology Collections Care at NHMU

· Research Fellowship: Archaeological/Ethnographic Collections at NHMU

Special Events

NSHU offers a variety of special events that incorporate the learning of the museum with special events like festivals, birthday parties, and family nights.

· Birthday Parties: Science-themed parties include access to exhibits.

· Family Late Night: Families can enjoy the park after-hours by enjoying learning and exploration activities.

· Bluegrass and BBQ is a music festival held at the Museum Café annually.

The Rio Tinto Center is also available to citizens for weddings, private galas, and corporate events that include access to the museum, the Canyon terrace, or closed-session meeting rooms.

Dining and Shopping

The Museum Café is open daily for breakfast and lunch and dinner on Wednesdays to both visitors of the museum and the general public. In line with their other programs, Museum Café uses proudly uses fresh products from local businesses including bakeries and beverage providers. The museum offers gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan menu items that cater to customers with special dietary needs. The café also offers catering for museum special events and ceremonies.

The Museum Gift Shop offers clientele a variety of Utah-inspired gifts, souvenirs, jewelry, and hand-crafted items from local artisans. Customers may also purchase themed toys and collectibles that demonstrate the rich history of the state.

Natural History Museum of Utah, 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84108, Phone: 801-581-6927

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