Saturday, November 23, 2013

Natural History Museum of Utah

Natural History Museum 

One of the treats of visiting a different city is checking out the museums, galleries, and sometimes even the shopping malls.  The University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City is the new home (2011) of the Natural History Museum of Utah housed in the modern building called the Rio Tinto Center.  The museum has existed since 1963 however it was in another building.  The exhibits have been updated; the interior is spacious and well designed.  The exterior of the modern building is mostly concrete but has what looks like wood siding that is made up of sheets or strips of copper so it is acquiring different colors of patina depending on the alloy. 

Inside there are five stories of exhibits.  We were advised to start at the top and work our way down.  There is a very fine exhibit of Native American art as well as a huge collection of dinosaur bones.  There is even a place to watch the scientists at work on the bones.  There were benches conveniently placed here and there so one could sit now and then.  Many of the displays had interactive screens with videos and audio information buttons too.

The attention to detail in the museum exhibits is amazing.  The small dolls were as elaborately dressed as a real person would be right down to the beaded moccasins and the decorated dresses and trousers. 

This window looked in on the crew working on the dinosaur bones

Could this be what the dinosaur bones would look like with skin and flesh added?
One of many sections of reconstructed dinosaur skeletons, this one contains a Columbian Mammoth, saber toothed tiger and cave bear.

A wall of triceratops skulls

Two sections in the dinosaur exhibit had clear glass floors with bones placed as they were found in the muddy lake bottom.  A video presentation explained the various theories about why so many bones were found in this particular place.  One theory was that there had been a drought and the remaining water had made a deep mud hole in which the animals got stuck and could not get out therefore they died and the carnivores that came to dine on the herbivores also got stuck and died.  Another theory was that the animals died up stream from some unknown cause and were washed down to the mud hole, the bodies bloated and became contaminated with toxins so the carnivores got sick from eating them and died. 

This guy is popping out of the wall to greet visitors to the dinosaur section

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