Grandma’s attic has nothing on Natural History Museum

From horse teeth to petrified wasp nests, the Utah Museum of Natural History was ready to satisfy the curious leanings of its patrons.

On Saturday afternoon, the Utah Museum of Natural History held its first annual “What’s in Your Attic?” event.

The program, developed in response to excessive interest and phone calls to the museum, invited the public to bring three natural history objects to be examined by expert curators.

“We had an incredibly heavy meteorite brought in that somebody’s grandfather saw hit in Layton 30 to 40 years ago,” said Sarah George, director of the museum. “We have 25 scientists who are experts in all areas who discover what and where these objects came from.”

According to Mark Loewen, a graduate student in geology, he and other curators of paleontology at the event had seen everything from a giant extinct shark tooth to sea creatures that were 300 to 400 million years old.

The paleontologist team also examined fossils, fish and dinosaur bones that dated back to the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, as well as insects plucked from tar pits.

Objects at the event included baskets, textiles, insects, bones, rocks and minerals, seashells and other oddities.

“It’s too early in the year for insects,” said Lori Millward, the Outreach Education Coordinator and curator or plants and insects. “People collect butterflies more than any other insect, but it’s really too early, although we have seen some spear sets.”

Only a couple of museums around the country hold similar events, according to Patti Carpenter, public relations manager for the museum. “Every year I can tell this will grow, but next year, we’ll need more curators,” said Carpenter. “We had a lot of strange stuff and more objects brought in than expected.”

The museum also holds a similar event in the fall, “What’s in the Basement?” in which the public is exposed to the museum’s hidden collections.

“We had people lined up in front of the doors before the event even opened,” George said about Saturday’s event. “It’s been busy the whole time and really successful.”

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