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New building for Utah’s Natural History Museum

Courtesy Natural History Museum of Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — The Natural History Museum of Utah, located at the University of Utah, will reopen to the public on Nov. 18 in a new building situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains overlooking Salt Lake City and inspired by the diverse landscape of Utah.

The $103 million Rio Tinto Center, which is clad in 42,000 square feet of copper, blends seamlessly into its surroundings. The angles of the roof rise and fall with the slope of the foothills in the background and the building rests on a series of terraces that step up the hill and lie along the contours of the site with minimal disruption to the adjacent natural landscape.

Inside, the building is divided by a 60-foot-high central public space, the Canyon, which is the centerpiece of the museum’s interior. One wing contains nine thematic exhibition galleries that use a set of interdisciplinary galleries to explore the sky, native voices, life, land, first peoples, Great Salt Lake, past worlds, our backyard and Utah’s futures.

The other wing contains research laboratories, conservation labs, collection storage and administration.

“I believe we now offer one of the nation’s great new cultural buildings in which architecture and exhibition content serve and advance science and education while respecting their natural surroundings,” said museum executive director Sarah George.