Natural History Museum of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Natural History Museum
of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

Project Size: 37,500 square feet
Designers: Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Environmental Synergy

The Natural History Museum of Utah Located at the Rio Tinto Center on the campus of the University of Utah, strives to empower people to make thoughtful decisions about the future, the museum illuminates the natural world and the place of humans within it.

Housing approximately 37,500 square feet of permanent exhibits, the gallery spaces include eight thematic areas covering topics ranging from Utah’s ancient ecosystems and first peoples, to the cutting-edge science of biogeography and genetics.

The museum’s interior is directly related to the natural world outside it’s doors. The architectural design melds the building into the surrounding foothills featuring large windows providing panoramic mountain views that contextualize the exhibits. Many of the fabrication materials either reflect, or were taken directly from, the surrounding landscape.

Services Provided

As the museum hopes to empower people to make thoughtful decisions about the future, kubik maltbie understood the importance of creating exhibits that would stand the test of time. Creating this unique synergy between building, environment and exhibits required close collaboration between architects, designers, contractors and fabricators to bring this LEED-certified project to life. Throughout the museum natural materials were used wherever possible. Rather than creating a set piece, stone was sourced from all over Utah to graphically depict the nine layers of stone that comprise the geological makeup of Utah. Medite was selected as the primary graphics substrate because of its close resemblance to the color and texture of the exterior grounds. With few 90 degree corners on panels lining the interior ramps of the galleries, a system using digital coordinates ensured that copy was correctly positioned on each panel. kubik maltbie also worked closely with museum curators to ensure artifacts were displayed properly and dioramas were accurate. The project included kubik maltbie’s preconstruction involvement five years prior to the opening with a role that included budget and schedule development as well as technical advice on fabrication and conserved showcase design. Following this initial phase, the scope of work contributed to the project included; fabrication and integration of all exhibit components including fully conserved cases that housed numerous large-scale artifacts and fossils, extensive scenic elements and a comprehensive graphics package utilizing direct to substrate technology, as well as artifact mounting, dioramas, lighting, interactives, shipping and installation on-site.


“It was a real collaboration. kubik maltbie listened to us and always did what was in the best interest of our visitors’ experience.”

Becky Menlove

director of exhibits and public programs, Natural History Museum of Utah