The boys and I love visiting our local museums. A couple weeks ago we got the chance to visit the Natural History Museum of Utah with some other local bloggers.
I’d never visited the Natural History Museum of Utah so I had no idea what to expect. The boys and I had a wonderful time and we ALL learned a TON!
Since the 2011 move to its new home just above the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, the Natural History Museum of Utah has become a veritable beehive of activity. With more than 1.5 million artifacts and specimens in our collections, we are the state’s Museum of Natural History, and the primary scientific research center for scientists and students at the University of Utah studying anthropology, botany, entomology, malacology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology.
The highlight of our visit was the Geckos Live exhibit, running now through May 1, 2016. We saw about 55 different species of Geckos from different parts of the world! During our visit, a special handler even brought out of the giant geckos for us to see and pet. Seriously, I had no idea geckos could get that big!
After visiting the geckos we headed over to learn a little bit more about the botanical and paleontological history of Utah. It is really very fascinating! In the Great Salt Lake gallery visitors learn that the Museum actually sits along the eastern shore of what was once Lake Bonneville. Kids and adults love to hand crank rainwater into a circular model of the valley to catch a glimpse of how much of the region was once underwater. To think that valleys in which most northern Utahans live all used to be underwater, covered by a lake scientists call Lake Bonneville! Many of the canyons that lead into the valley were once filled with glaciers.
Probably the biggest highlight for my boys were the fossils, dinosaur, and bones on display. In Past Worlds, bones and the fossils of dinosaurs and other ancient creatures come alive. Utah is a treasure trove for paleontologists! Most of the recent finds have emerged from the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument region, not far from Lake Powell. There was a whole wall lined with ceratops skulls that had been found in Utah.
Of course, each of the boys had to take turns lying in the dinosaur foot print to see how they compared in size…
Utah is also home to several Native American tribes. Visiting the Native Voices gallery of the Natural History Museum of Utah, we got to learn a bit about the rich cultures of some of the Native American tribes who settled in Utah first.
Before breaking for lunch we made a quick stop in the Our Backyard gallery made especially for the littlest visitors to the museum. It was a little small, but it serves it’s purpose as a place parents can stop, have a seat, and watch the little ones play for a bit. The Our Backyard gallery allows mini explorers to play at the water table, try on costumes, crawl into and through tight spaces, and gaze at live animals up close.
After lunch we made our way through the Land gallery of the Natural History Museum of Utah. Thanks to the Rock and Learn Earth Science DVD, my 6 year old is very into geology. We had a fun time learning and quizzing each other about which rocks common to where we live in Utah belong to which classification of rock: sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic.
Our last stop was to my favorite exhibit; the mineralogy exhibit. The collection totals more than 5,000 items ranging from native elements such as gold and copper to colorful minerals such as fluorite, dioptase and azurite.
All in all it was an exciting and information packed day! Each of the boys brought their own notebook (yes, even the 3 year old) and jotted down something they learned from each exhibit along with a sketch of one of their favorite parts of each exhibit. I admit that the 3 year old’s notes were just a few squiggly lines, but it is the effort that counts here. 😉
Click here to learn more about the Natural History Museum of Utah including special exhibits and admission prices.
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For those of you in Utah, I have 4 tickets to the Natural History Museum of Utah that I would love to give to one of you!
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