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Mission, Values & Strategic Plan

Mission

The Natural History Museum of Utah illuminates the natural world and the place of humans within it.

Values

  • We are a creative, dynamic institution.
  • We attract and serve a broad, diverse audience.
  • We meet the highest professional and ethical standards.
  • We are accountable for our work.
  • Our scientific research and interpretation are interdisciplinary, timely, and encourage active inquiry.
  • We strive for and promote sustainability in all we do.
  • We seek and sustain meaningful partnerships.

Statement of Ethics

It is recognized that we benefit from a high degree of public trust. To maintain that confidence, we must act with integrity, prudence, intellectual honesty, foresight and appropriate transparency. It is in our Statement of Ethics we intend to communicate a better understanding of our mission and dictate basic ethical responsibilities for NHMU staff, volunteers and other partners. 

NHMU & Evolution

NHMU is an institution of science. As such, we accept the theory of evolution, which is the unifying concept of all biological sciences. While there remains ongoing and lively debate about the processes of evolutionary change—that is, how evolution occurs—the overwhelming majority of biologists fully endorse the idea that all organisms on earth share a common ancestry and that life's unfolding has encompassed billions of years of time. Like gravity, evolution is one of the cornerstones of modern science, and it represents one of the key themes of our institutional mission. 

Statement on Injustice and Racism

NHMU is committed to racial equality and justice. Read more

Sustainability - Leading by Example

"Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." -Bruntland Commission, United Nations, 1987

The Natural History Museum of Utah scientists study the past to understand pattern and process, with the belief that this knowledge provides a basis for people to make informed decisions that affect the future. The philosophy of sustainability is a fundamental framework for evaluating such choices. The Museum provides opportunities for students and visitors to better understand their interactions with the natural world and provide a framework for individual and community decision-making. We aspire to lead by example—demonstrating the viability of sustainable choices in our new building and in our operations. 

Sustainability is a core value here at NHMU, as seen through our new building and is an integral aspect of our mission.

Learn more about our new building, the Rio Tinto Center and it's LEED certification.

Diversity & Inclusion Statement

At the Natural History Museum of Utah, we recognize that our strength and sustainability as an organization stem from diversity and inclusion. For this reason, we are committed to fostering equity, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce that reflects the communities we serve, and empowering staff members in developing an accessible and inclusive work environment.

We also place a strong emphasis on providing an exceptional experience to every guest who visits the Museum or participates in any of our programs. We believe that everyone at NHMU, at every level and in all departments, are a critical part of providing this level of experience. Therefore, all staff members receive ongoing training and are expected to consistently contribute to creating exceptional, memorable, and inclusive experiences for our guests, partners, and the community.


Strategic Plan 2022–2026

Our Vision…

Evolution is in our DNA. We adapt and build on a decade of significant change, powered by our considerable strengths, including an award-winning Museum building and a creative and dedicated staff. We embrace our responsibility to preserve and honor Utah’s natural and cultural treasures for all to learn about and enjoy. We define our future by reflecting our state’s past and present natural and cultural diversity—by embodying Utah.

The Natural History Museum of Utah will seek to serve Utah and beyond with intention, identifying and meeting changing community needs, to make a positive difference in our society. NHMU will look to, learn from, and partner with our community to advance the ideals of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility and will offer ourselves as a safe place for crucial conversations, strive to be a community partner where all are invited, all are welcomed, all feel valued, and all benefit. We will seek to identify economic, cultural, or accessibility barriers that may exclude or restrict meaningful engagement with us and we will work with our community to overcome those barriers. 

NHMU will be a leading research institution, providing objective, evidence-based information and reasonable, data-informed interpretation. We will engage with diverse audiences through impactful, compelling programs and events onsite, offsite, and online. As we continue to evolve, and in all that we do, NHMU strives to stimulate curiosity and ignite a love of the natural world—catalyzing awareness and action to improve our world and inspiring the next generation of scientists and stewards of our future.

How We’ll Get There…

To achieve our strategic vision over five years, NHMU will dedicate ourselves to five big ideas. From 2022 to 2026, we will: lead with science by putting the scientific endeavor at the center of all that we do; connect with people by forging collaborative partnerships; activate our spaces by harnessing the full potential of our physical locations; invest in our team to align our resources with current community needs; and embrace our future by investing in our physical space, financial health, and current and future staff to ensure that NHMU thrives during the next 50 years. 

Our Strategic Goals:

LEAD WITH SCIENCE:  NHMU cares for natural and cultural history collections of global scientific significance, conducts internationally recognized research using those collections, and engages the public with science in innovative ways.  To amplify the power of the scientific endeavor, NHMU will: 

  • Harness Museum research expertise to engage with communities and stimulate critical thinking around the most pressing challenges of our time: biodiversity, climate change, and sustainability 
  • Deliver exceptional and inclusive science content and engagement in our public and educational programs, events, and exhibitions 
  • Invest in the curation and decolonization of our collections, increase their scientific relevance, and expand their onsite and virtual accessibility to a broader audience 
  • Support and cultivate a diverse next generation of scientists by expanding student research and community science opportunities 

CONNECT WITH PEOPLE:  NHMU is the state’s museum of natural history, serving all of Utah and audiences nationally and internationally. To embrace collaboration and to center community voices, NHMU will:

  • Deepen existing and nurture new relationships with communities statewide to enhance collaborations and partnerships 
  • Expand partnerships and build trust with culturally, racially, and linguistically diverse communities, including Utah’s eight federally-recognized Indigenous tribes, and underserved audiences in Utah’s urban and rural communities 
  • Connect with audiences onsite and around the world using effective outreach and communication methods and the latest technology 
  • Engage current and new, diverse audiences by developing and delivering inclusive onsite, offsite, and online resources and experiences 

ACTIVATE SPACES TO INSPIRE:  NHMU has a breathtaking home, the award-winning Rio Tinto Center, perfectly situated at the intersection of wildlands and urban areas. The Museum’s incredible site makes us unique and offers untapped opportunities for experiential learning. NHMU operates the remote Range Creek Field Station in Range Creek Canyon, home to hundreds of archaeologically and culturally significant sites. And we are committed to inspiring a love of nature in an extraordinary state. To realize the full potential of these extraordinary resources, NHMU will: 

  • Transform the outside spaces around the Rio Tinto Center to inspire a love of nature and entice visitors into our wonderful inside spaces 
  • Focus on our main site by improving access through public transportation, refreshing aging assets, and completing a site Master Plan to provide a roadmap for building expansion 
  • Forge new partnerships to increase opportunities at our Range Creek Field Station 
  • Invite people to discover natural spaces across Utah through community science and educational opportunities 
  • Reduce our carbon footprint by putting sustainability at the heart of NHMU operations 

INVEST IN OUR TEAM:  The NHMU Team is widely regarded as a core strength of the Museum. To provide exceptional visitor experiences and to be an outstanding community partner, we must foster and support the diverse, creative, and dedicated team that powers the Museum. To become a leading employer in Utah, NHMU will: 

  • Create a transparent and accountable work environment that respects and champions inclusion, diversity, equity, accessibility, and belonging that challenges the status quo and that empowers all to have a voice 
  • Recruit and retain a diverse staff and volunteer corps, support career advancement, and provide training and development opportunities to nurture excellence in current and future museum professionals 
  • Increase diversity of all kinds—and diversity of perspectives—at all levels of the organization, including in leadership positions and on the Board of Advisors 
  • Encourage innovation, imagination, and creativity in all Museum initiatives 

EMBRACE OUR FUTURE:  NHMU thrives in our changing environment with nimble and flexible business practices. Science prepares us for future challenges, requiring us to prioritize resource planning, financial needs, and business resilience. To prepare for future opportunities and challenges, NHMU will:

  • Strengthen and diversify revenue streams to provide mission-enabling resources and increase our ability to pursue ambitious projects 
  • Engage audiences through collaboration and evaluation to better understand their needs, and exercise data-driven decision-making and exemplary business practices to better meet those needs 
  • Focus on systems and processes to strengthen coordination and synergy among individuals and teams 
  • Develop and report on the Key Performance Indicators that drive our success—today and in the future