I love museums. I sort of have a museum situation, which is a way of saying that I have a museum problem without admitting that it’s a problem. I can spend the whole day in a museum and never get bored, and it’s more than just the exhibits. I cherish fine art museums and embrace my puzzlement at modern art museums and I even enjoy bizarre little local history museums and roadside attraction museums. I’m pretty sure I’d even enjoy that museum with the cavemen riding dinosaurs, if only to bask in our obvious mutual love for Dino-Riders. (I even had a good time with the “museum” section of that Dino-Riders fan site. That is how seriously I take this, you guys.)
I geek out over the brilliance of the exhibit design and how engaging some particular attraction must be for little children (ignoring of course the fact that I myself am usually behaving like a little child by this point) and the mix of kid-sized and grown-up attractions and the interactivity of the exhibits and the sheer mind-blowing majesty of the dinosaur bones and… I could go on, but I won’t. Frankly, when you get me into the proper museum frame of mind I tend to become a little sub-verbal and start gesticulating wildly rather than using my words.
So it’s probably obvious to you by now that one of the things I missed the most, when I was living the last handful of years in very small-town rural America, was having a proper museum at my disposal. When I moved back to Salt Lake last year, I was overwhelmingly delighted to learn that the Natural History Museum of Utah — easily my favorite kind of museum — was brand new and improved. I loved the old museum, which was kind of musty and dark and in my memory possessed nothing but endless halls of taxidermy and shelves full of pinned insects. But the new museum just about made me lose my shit with joy. My photos didn’t do the building’s architecture justice, but if you check out their website they’ve got some great pictures of what the building looks like. I have brought you instead a lot of pictures of dinosaurs. Because dinosaurs, that’s why.
You move through the museum from bottom to top, starting with dinosaurs and moving up in time to the ice age, where you’ll spot this giant sloth and some other sweet fossils like wooly mammoth, dire wolf, saber-toothed tiger and giant oxen. Behind the sloth you may have spotted some sweet pelicans, which are part of the next exhibit on local biomes, with particular attention paid to wetlands. There’s a simulator where you get to flood the Salt Lake valley (good times were had by all) and some other sweet interactive exhibits. Each floor basically has its own topic, including a great one on the area’s ancient people and their craftsmanship which I hardly got any worthwhile pictures of, and:
In short, what I’m trying to say here is that if you visit Salt Lake City and you don’t visit this museum, I feel very sorry for you. I know my photos aren’t the greatest advertisement ever, but I am not kidding you about how rad this museum is. Also, if you have museums at your disposal and you haven’t visited them lately, you should. And when you find something that particularly delights you, I hope you’ll have a little enthusiastic geek-out, just for me.