Mission, Values, and Goals

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. 

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.


Strategic Goals 2017–2022

Background 
 
The Museum’s mission is to illuminate the natural world and the place of humans within it, and we do this in the context of the extraordinary landscape of Utah. The Natural History Museum of Utah will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, and in those five decades has developed a reputation of excellence in research, education, exhibitions, collections stewardship, and community service. 
 
As the designated state museum of natural history, we have the privilege of caring for the state’s collections of natural and indigenous cultural objects. We serve people in communities across the urban and rural landscape by providing access to these collections and, through them, communicating the importance and value of the natural world around us, and providing key educational services to develop a science-literate workforce. 
 
We are a part of and draw on the unique intellectual resources of the University of Utah. Our campus collaborations spark entrepreneurial research and programs, and the administration encourages a nimbleness rare in public organizations. We offer broad educational development and employment opportunities to the student body and the students, in turn, inspire us to push boundaries and look into the future. 
 
In 2011, the Museum opened its spectacular new home, the Rio Tinto Center, which grew out of a remarkable public-private partnership between federal, state, and county governments and corporations, foundations, and individuals. This was a transformational milestone for the Museum, providing a much-needed platform for 21st-century research and education. Since opening, we have successfully increased our services, honed their quality, developed a sustainable operation, and became a top destination in Salt Lake City. 
 
This is a crucial time for Utah. Our population is rapidly growing and changing. Human interactions with Utah’s landscape are complex and have high impact which is poorly understood. Our work in understanding the natural world and human interactions, and effectively communicating the risks, impacts, and choices we have is now more important than ever. 
 
In the next five years, we have an extraordinary opportunity to build on the potential of the Rio Tinto Center to address these challenges by investing in cutting-edge research, novel and impactful exhibitions, and innovative science education. We can do this most effectively by leveraging our relationships with the State, the University, and our many constituencies, and building on our experience in innovation, collaboration, research, learning, and public experience. The goals for 2017 - 2022 are rooted in this context, created with input from NHMU’s staff, board, and volunteers, plus University representatives and key stakeholders, and take into account the Museum’s mission, values and vision for our community. 
 
Goals
 
Focus our research and interpretation on sustaining biological diversity 
With 40 percent of the world’s economy connected to the natural world and 50 percent of new drugs derived from biological sources, the well-being of humanity is dependent on the variety and variability of life on Earth.  Given NHMU’s strength as a research institution, we will:
Establish the Sustaining Biodiversity Research Initiative in collaboration with colleagues and departments across the University of Utah 
Increase public understanding of the significance of biological diversity in the world today and the risks associated with losses in the future
Expand biologically-focused citizen science opportunities in Utah to gain greater understanding of the biodiversity across our state, increase awareness at a local level, and provide essential data for research, planning and management
Engage students at all educational levels in Museum research and interpretation
Increase the breadth and scope of biodiversity research in Range Creek
 
Deliver exceptional and inclusive audience experiences
As Utah’s official state museum of natural history, with a mandate to serve Utahns statewide as well as visitors from around the world, we will:
Broaden the demographic, geographic, and cultural makeup of audiences and increase the number of people we serve on-site, off-site, and on-line 
Make it easier to learn about, find, and get to the Rio Tinto Center
Invest in high quality, relevant exhibits and programs through innovation, prototyping, and audience testing
Leverage the Museum Preserve for education and research
Innovate in broad digital engagement to advance our mission
The next generation of leaders will be “digital natives,” having grown up with digital technology as part of their everyday lives.  To ensure that they, as well as all other visitors, benefit from the Museum’s vast educational resources, we will:
Expand on-line experience with high design, current content, more interactivity, and well-supported technology 
Develop, build, test, and iterate new on-site, digital experiences
Make collections globally available to researchers and the public
Explore entrepreneurial applications of new digital tools
 
Ensure the future relevance and vitality of the Museum
The Museum holds more than 1.6 million priceless objects in trust for future generations.  With this responsibility in front of mind and a commitment to leverage our landmark new home, the Rio Tinto Center, for the maximum benefit of all, we will:
Recruit and retain top talent by investing in an engaging, productive, inclusive, and innovative workplace environment and culture
Foster engagement, diversity, and inclusion across staff, volunteers, and board
Promote efficiency and effectiveness in our operations and use of space and decrease our impact on the environment
Effectively communicate the results of our work to internal and external audiences 
Invest in our capital assets
Build endowments and financial reserves
Develop succession plans for NHMU and Range Creek