The Natural History Museum of Utah reopens to the public on Friday in a brand-new, environmentally-conscious building funded by a $103 million public-private partnership. Called the Rio Tinto Center, after the mining company that chipped in $15 million for the facility, it's located on the campus of the University of Utah, just a few miles east of downtown Salt Lake City.
The new museum will have 10 galleries of exhibits, spanning more than 50,000 square feet of space. Despite the scale, admission is $9, cheaper than tickets to the Field Museum in Chicago or American Museum of Natural History in New York. (Though not cheaper than the free admission to the Smithsonian-curated National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.)
One architect who worked on Salt Lake's new museum hopes the stunning building will become a symbol of the city, saying in a video teaser for the project:
"My hope is that the architecture of the Natural History Museum of Utah will do for Salt Lake City and the region what the Sydney Opera House did for Australia: become a definitive icon, inseparable from its place and its memory."
The museum is seeking gold-level LEED certification for the building, which would make it one of just 18 such environmentally built and maintained structures in the region.