Gallery Quest - Insider Scoop

Want to know what our Museum insiders find the most interesting? Follow the self-guided gallery tour and uncover the hidden and exciting objects beloved by Natural History Museum of Utah staff and volunteers. What might you find? Take photos along the way and share your best moments #NHMU.

Prefer to print out the tour? Download the PDF by clicking the button below.

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Panoramic Views

View of the Salt Lake Valley from the Sky Terrace at NHMU

Sky Terrace | Level 5
Staff Pick: Echo Paixao, Assistant Gallery Programs Coordinator

On a clear day you can see the entire 500-square miles of the Salt Lake Valley, surrounded by the Oquirrh Mountains, Traverse Ridge, Wasatch Mountains, and the Great Salt Lake. This spot was once the shoreline of a massive freshwater lake where dinosaurs roamed 200 million years ago. From here you can see millions of years of geological history surrounding Salt Lake City.


Mary Holiday Black, Navajo Story Basket

Image of a woven basket

Native Voices | Level 5
Staff Pick: Valerie Allyse, Education Program Facilitator

In the southeastern Utah Navajo Nation, a renaissance of Navajo basket weaving has emerged. Artists like Mary Holiday Black have found increasingly unique ways to express their own artistic voices and meet their customers’ interests through weaving. The “story basket” style breaks from traditional designs, telling personal and contemporary stories with sometimes unexpected images.


Cowboy Cave, Coiled Basket

Image of a woven basket

First Peoples | Level 3
Staff Pick: Anne Lawlor, Anthropology Assistant Collections Manager

Anthropologist Phil Geib found this coiled basket in Cowboy Cave, Utah while camping. This basket—which wouldn’t look out of place at a weekend farmer’s market—is the oldest coiled basket on record! Radiocarbon dating tells us it’s at least 8,688 years old.



Tourmaline Carvings

Bird carvings made of tourmaline

Gems & Minerals | Level 3
Staff Pick: Abby Curran, Chief Operating Officer

These carvings are made from tourmaline, a mineral that, when cut and polished, has one of the widest ranges of colors of any gem. The variation of color that shows up in these carvings looks like they could be man-made, but is just how the colors naturally occur in the stone. The artist must work creatively with the color transitions to use them strategically in the design.


Adult & Juvenile Mammoth Casts

Fossils of Mammoth, baby mammoth, saber tooth cat, and others

Past Worlds | Level 3
Staff Pick: Sarah Allen, Community Outreach Manager

During the Ice Age, Utah was home to amazing animals like ground sloths, saber-tooth cats, massive short-faced bears, and even giant mammoths. In 2019, near Lake Powell in southern Utah, a Columbian mammoth was discovered. NHMU’s scientists and volunteers were lucky enough to get to excavate it! Studies of the fossil material may give us a new snapshot into Utah’s past.


Akainacephalus johnsoni

Fossil of Akainacephalus johnsoni with volunteer paleontologist

Past Worlds | Level 2
Staff Pick: Nichelle O’Saurus, Volunteer & Community Programs Manager

This species of armored dinosaur lived 76 million years ago in what is now Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Covered in osteoderms (spikes) that gave it protection and a flashy look, it took NHMU volunteers nearly four years to prepare all the bones of Akainacephalus johnsoni. Randy Johnson, honored in the species’ name, prepared the skull.



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