The Big Dig at Utah’s Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum

The architectural wonder follows the contours of the hillside so well it blends with the environment. The shiny copper exterior emulates the natural layers of rock formations seen throughout Utah.

This is Utah’s pride and joy – a Natural History Museum called the Rio Tinto Center. It opened last November 2011 to raving reviews.

Coincidentally, the New York Times newspaper printed a wonderful article on it yesterday called “History Carved Out of the Hills” while I was exploring all 150 million years of it.

After admiring the ground floor terrace with a stunning window on the world our guide takes us to the top floor exhibit first. Here we learn about Utah’s native peoples: the Ute, Paiute, Shoshone, Goshute and Navajo. Input from local Indian historians helped design the tiered seating and floor to ceiling vertical panels displaying contemporary photos.

Following that 10 wildly hands-on galleries blastyou with themes on Life, Land, Lake, Past Worlds, First Peoples and MInerals. From proteins to populations, the journey spans 225 million years of Utah’s history.

My favorite was the close-up views of fossil mounts especially the Gryposaurus (duck-billed) dinosaur made of 80% original fossil material.