Exciting changes coming to UMNH

By By Sarah George and By Sarah George

By Sarah George

What do you want from a natural history museum? This is the question we asked hundreds of people, including many students, through the public process of an environmental impact study, and we used the results in the planning and design of the new building for the Utah Museum of Natural History.

We’ve listened carefully, and the museum, now under construction on U property in upper Research Park, will reflect many of the thoughtful answers we heard: a modern science museum that is at the edge of the city and wildlands of the university and the community; a museum that provides a safe home for our heritage; collections that reflect 1.5 billion years of life in Utah; a museum that not only reflects the special landscape we live in but is connected to it; a museum that looks to the future.

This ain’t your grandparents’ museum with hushed halls of didactic displays. We are working to create a beehive of scientific activity with exhibitions and programs that engender participation and discussion, punctuated with places that invite quiet contemplation.

To ensure we approached the new exhibitions from a variety of perspectives, the museum formed several content teams of experts in the fields of science, research, writing, art, photography and other areas. The teams have worked with museum staff to help shape the visitor experience. Members of these teams came from the U, the community8212;both along the Wasatch Front and statewide8212;and regional and national experts. Based on this collaborative work, the new museum will showcase Utah and its incredible natural history.

As the state’s designated natural history museum, there will be far more opportunities for student involvement than are possible in our current home: educational demonstrations and theater in the galleries, outdoor interpretation, undergraduate and graduate research opportunities, field research around the state and the world, plus plenty of on-campus day jobs. And, for writing a paper on your wireless laptop while you sip on a soda with your feet up8212;the best view in town!

We’re free to U students, faculty and staff now, and we will continue to be in the new museum. We invite you to come to the Thomas Building in Presidents’ Circle to take a look at the model and renderings, enjoy the exhibits we have today and think about the future.

[email protected]

Editor’s Note8212;Sarah George is the executive director of the Utah Museum of Natural History.