Natural History Museum of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

This museum, conveying the natural and cultural history of Utah, commands a sweeping view of the Great Salt Lake Basin; the building is surrounded by the story it tells. Interpretive terraces and indoor and outdoor trails point out biological and geological features. Permanent exhibitions explore topics such as Utah’s ancient ecosystems and first peoples to cutting-edge biogeography and genetics.

Properly representing Utah’s treasures required an analysis of existing assets. The nine thematic galleries are Utah Sky, Native Voices, Life, Land, First Peoples, the Great Salt Lake, Utah’s Past Worlds, Our Backyard, and Utah’s Futures.

Each gallery reflects multiple scientific disciplines and collections as well as humanities-oriented subject matter. The Life gallery, for example, encompasses genetics, biology, and aspects of history and anthropology. Educational facilities are embedded in the galleries to capitalize on the drama and data of surrounding exhibitions, providing hands-on learning environments.

The museum welcomed 300,000 visitors in its first year. It has been honored with multiple design and architecture awards.


Ennead Architects


40,000 square feet

  • GOOD DESIGN Awards, Museum of Architecture and Design

  • Industrial Designers Society of America, Finalist

  • Communication Arts, Environmental Graphics

  • International Design Communication Awards, Bronze Winner, Best Exhibition Layout

  • European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, American Architecture Award

  • Creativity International Awards, Gold Winner for Environmental Graphics

  • Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Merit Award

  • American Alliance of Museums, AAM Excellence in Exhibitions Competition: Alignment of Site and Mission, Special Distinction

© 2014, Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Inc.