The capital of the U.S. state of Utah, Salt Lake City is known for its historic Capitol Building, the iconic Temple Square Mormon temple, and Hogle Zoo. Find out more about all the attractions of Salt Lake City on the official tourism board website for Utah. Salt Lake City also has a number of interesting museums to explore. One of these is Natural History Museum of Utah, a museum that features exhibits on the history of the state’s flora and fauna, as well as the Intermountain West. Here’s a guide to Natural History Museum of Utah that you can check out to find out more.
Things to do / Highlights
The mission of Natural History Museum of Utah is to reveal the natural world and the placement of human beings within it. The museum is nestled in the foothills of Wasatch Mountain Range above Salt Lake City and occupies Rio Tinto Center. The building was designed to blend into its surrounding environment and is set on the popular Bonneville Shoreline Trail—a favorite spot of many for hiking and mountain biking. The building is wrapped by 42,000 sq ft (3,902 sq m) of seam copper, mined from the nearby Bingham Canyon Mine. The seams of copper have been placed at varying heights on the outside of the building to represent layered rock formations found throughout the state of Utah.
Here you can explore various exhibits that teach about paleontology (the study of past history, as found in the fossil record), anthropology (the study of the origins of humans, their behavior, and past and present culture), entomology (the study of insects on the planet), vertebrate zoology (the study of animals that have a backbone, including birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles), mineralogy (the study of minerals by their identification, properties, and distribution), and botany (the study of plants including ecological and evolutionary relationships).
Explore interesting collections that have made the museum their home, such as the Sky exhibit (relating to climate, weather, astronomy, dark skies, and the sun), Native Voices exhibit (relates to the traditions of the eight federally recognized tribes in Utah), Life exhibit (illustrates the complexity of life from DNA to ecosystems), Land exhibit (relates to three distinct physiographic regions in Utah and showcases Middle Rocky Mountains, Basin and Range, and Colorado Plateau), First Peoples exhibit (relates to the prehistoric peoples of the Great Basin), Gems and Minerals exhibit (juxtaposes rough mineral forms with brilliant, cut gemstones in many beautiful colors), Great Salt Lake exhibit (tells the story of Great Salt Lake, which is a part of the ancient Lake Bonneville), and Past Worlds exhibit (shows Utah’s range of ancient environments and changing lifeforms).
Throughout the year, Natural History Museum of Utah offers a selection of special exhibitions. One example is “Nature All Around Us,” which explores the fact that nature is present in the cities and towns of Utah and features some relevant wild plants and animals. Check out the museum’s website to find out which special exhibitions will be on during your visit.
What to eat
The Museum Cafe is located on the second floor of the building and is open to the general public and museum visitors between 10am and 4pm. The cafe’s main emphasis is on fresh, locally produced ingredients, sourcing its coffee and baked items from local bakeries and coffee roasters. The cafe offers a selection of homemade soups, salads, and specialty dishes and also features vegan and gluten-free options.
Things to buy
The Museum Store offers a range of unique, Utah-themed gifts and souvenirs that embody the visitor’s experiences at the museum and the nature of Utah. You can choose from a range of handcrafted jewelry, dinosaur toys, and collectibles and other works by local artisans.
Accessible parking is available for those with wheelchairs on the eastern side of the parking lot. There is also a passenger drop-off point in the turnaround on the north side of the museum. All entrances to the museum are accessible to strollers and wheelchairs.
Elevators are available in all areas of the museum.
Should visitors prefer not to take their own wheelchairs, a number of wheelchairs are available on loan at no cost, on a first-come, first-served basis. Visit the admission station on level 1.
There are a number of benches placed throughout the galleries of the museum to allow visitors to rest.
Service animals are allowed in Natural History Museum of Utah, if they have been trained to aid an individual with a disability.
Personal care assistant
For those visitors with a disability, the museum can offer free admission to paid personal care assistants traveling with them.
For those with hearing problems, closed captioning is used on most of the videos displayed in the permanent exhibits. Anyone participating in the Highlight Tour has access to audio-induction loops and broadcasting devices on request.
Quieter museum hours
For those wishing to visit the museum at a quieter time, Monday to Friday after 1:30pm and Sundays are best.
Spanish language resources
The museum’s maps, special exhibitions, and highlight tours are also available in the Spanish language.
How to get there
Driving from downtown Salt Lake City, the fastest route is via University Bldv. and takes 12 minutes to cover 4.5 mi (7.2 km).
- Head south on 200 W toward 300 S/Broadway.
- Turn left onto 400 S/University Blvd.
- Continue straight onto UT-186 E/University Blvd.
- Use the left two lanes to turn left onto Wakara Way.
- Arrive at Natural History Museum of Utah.
Visit Google Maps for alternative directions or head to the museum’s website and choose “Directions” under the “Plan a Visit” tab.
By public transport
Alternative transportation is available with Hospital On-Demand Shuttle, which uses TRAX Red Line and can provide transport to the museum upon request. UTA bus nos. 228, 313, 455, and 473 also stop at the intersection of Chipeta and Wakara Way, a two-block walk from the museum.
Uber and Lyft
Uber and Lyft services are available in Salt Lake City. Consult the app on your phone.
Tickets can be secured at the door of the museum. To purchase tickets online, head to the museum’s official ticket-purchase page. Third-party vendors are also available.
Skip the Line: Natural History Museum of Utah Entrance Ticket
Duration: 2 to 3 hours
Natural History Museum of Utah
Address: 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Official website: Natural History Museum of Utah
Department of tourism: Visit Utah
Opening hours: Thu - Tue: 10am - 5pm; Wed: 10am - 9pm
Price: 10 - 15 USD
Salt Lake City Connect Pass
Duration: 1 to 3 day
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