Utah’s new museum of natural history engages the senses: Rotting flesh and bird songs

SALT LAKE CITY — Museum-goers are taking in the sounds, smell and feel of ancient life and landscapes at a new $100 million building in Salt Lake City.

The Natural History Museum of Utah engages the senses, allowing visitors to mingle inside exhibits, touch artifacts, get a whiff of desert plants or rotting flesh and hear the soft warbling of birds.

People are even walking on top of exhibits, with glass-panel floors covering fossil dig sites. Over the years, they’ll also be able to watch paleontologists separate fossils from rock in a glass-walled working laboratory.

The museum, which opened Nov. 18, is located in the Rio Tinto Center on the University of Utah campus. The center’s copper and stone exterior is designed to blend into the high foothills of the Wasatch Range, and it’s named for the mining company that donated the copper — 100,000 pounds of it — for the outside panels. The center was also designed to meet specifications for top ratings from the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building systems, with features like a planted roof and parking tiers that percolate rainwater. Rooftop solar panels will satisfy a quarter of the building’s energy demands....

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