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The Natural Selection

Annabelle? Or just Allosaurus?

I’ve fondly named her Annabelle. She’s big-boned and stands about 14 feet tall. In her day she ruled the roost, but she’s retired now. Today Annabelle patiently counts the days to when her earthy-but-snazzy new home cuts the celebratory ribbon and opens the floodgates to thousands seeking wonder and natural delight.

Annabelle the Allosaurus.

Yes, I’m talking about the copper-clad Natural History Museum of Utah at the Rio Tinto Center. I was one of the fortunate few invited to a sneak preview of this incredible museum nestled along the rim of what was once the Bonneville Shoreline – the infamous lake that existed more than 14,000 years before us.

NHMU has a new home at The Rio Tinto Center, opening November 18th.

To explain the experience as stunning would be an understatement. The spectacular LEED Gold building will knock your socks off, while at the same time root you more firmly than ever to the Salt Lake Valley. Inside the museum you’ll find yourself taking deep breaths – inhaling the architecture as though it were a high-altitude landscape. There are no walls and everything is connected: the Sky Room, Native Voices, Life and Biology, Land and Geology, Anthropology, and then Lake, Pleistocene, and finally Jurassic – all of it laid out in a raw aesthetic that speaks to our region’s lush Native American history, geology, archeology, and biology.

Enter through The Canyon.

The museum journey takes you to the sparse elegance of the Great Salt Lake, to the red rock canyons in southern Utah, and far beyond. The traditional dioramas complete with taxidermy critters we all remember from our childhoods will charm you all over again. These scenes are every bit as fascinating today, enhanced by the fact that there’s no glass between you and the poised cougar just three feet from your reach.

The views will amaze, inside and out.

You will use a heliostat to view real-time coronas and sunspots. You will gaze at the stars. And you will stand amongst the giants where Annabelle now lives.

I could go on and on. But what you need to do is simply go to the museum. Annabelle is waiting for you.

Author and Annabelle at the museum sneak preview.

The countdown is on. Friday, November 18, 2011 is opening day of the new Natural History Museum of Utah. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Learn more here: The museum was recently named A Great New Reason to Visit Five Cities by

  • UintahMom

    Heidi, so glad you enjoyed your visit! We look forward to welcoming EVERYONE to the Museum starting Friday, November 18, 2011. In the meantime, I’ll look at Annabelle with fresh eyes next time I’m in the Past Worlds gallery! :)

  • enwimmer

    Wow, Heidi! This sounds absolutely amazing! I was already looking forward to exploring the museum’s new space, but now I CAN’T WAIT! Thanks for sharing!

  • gladdad1

    Fantastic. Such an important addition to SLC, the Wasatch front, Utah & the entire Intermountain west. I can’t wait to see the Ceratopcean skull wall. What fun.