Space, dinosaurs, art, Mormons, and more: an incredible selection of excellent museums

Salt Lake City has quite a story to tell. Fortunately for its residents and visitors, it also has a diverse selection of top-notch museums to illustrate the various facets of its past and present.

If you're interested in how Utah's incredible backcountry came into existence, consider a trip to the Natural History Museum of Utah, at the University of Utah. Here you'll catch exhibits depicting the eons of geologic activity that have shaped this colorful piece of the earth. You'll also see fossils and replicas of great dinosaurs and other ancient life that occupied the Great Basin in bygone millenia. Located in a brand new, top-notch, beautiful facility at the base of Wasatch foothills, this museum will captivate adults as much as children. While on campus, swing by the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, a nearly 75,000-square-foot building with a collection spanning roughly 4,000 years.

If the kids didn't get enough at the Natural History Museum, head west to Discovery Gateway, inside the Gateway Center. Totally redesigned and relocated in 2006, this colorful, stimulating facility is a pleasure to visit.

Those interested in the most recent 135 years or so of human history in Utah should take a trip to any of the Mormon museums. The Daughters of Utah Pioneer Memorial Museum details the lives of the early Latter-day Saints who migrated westward to found Salt Lake City. The Chase Home Museum of Folk Art focuses on the handiworks of those original settlers, as well as that of indigenous tribes. Alternatively, you can head back to the University of Utah to check out Fort Douglas and its museum; this structure was built by the U.S. Army, sent to Salt Lake City in 1862 to keep an eye on the Mormons by a nervous President Abraham Lincoln. 

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Museum of Church History
Photo courtesy of heyjohngreen

Of all the major world religions, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the shortest history. Founded on April 6, 1830 by Joseph Smith, this religion is not even 200 years old. However, brief does not make boring! Starting in...  Read More

Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Art
Photo courtesy of AnnaKika

Operated by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums, the Chase Home Museum of Folk Art sits in the center of Liberty Park. Though this might seem strange, Liberty Park was, in fact, once a 110-acre pioneer farm settled by none other than Mormon...  Read More

Mormons were the first permanent settlers to arrive in Utah, founding Salt Lake City in 1847. Attracted by the utter lack of other people, this religious group intended to found a nation of their own. However, the U.S. Federal Government denied...  Read More

Daughters of Utah Pioneer Memorial Museum
Photo courtesy of tracie7779

The Daughters of Utah Pioneers is an international organization committed to preserving the history of Utah's early settlers. This museum contains four stories, each dedicated to illustrating different aspects of the human history that shaped...  Read More

Red Butte Garden and Arboretum
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

When most people imagine a museum, they envision paintings, sculptures, and possibly dinosaur fossils. However, a museum must not be restricted to dead or man-made objects! If you're planning a museum trip in Salt Lake City, consider visiting...  Read More

Clark Planetarium
Photo courtesy of Clark Planetarium

Open 365 days a year, the Clark Planetarium has many attractions. One of its biggest draws is its IMAX theater. This five-story venue hosts the screenings of incredibly vivid documentary and Hollywood films in 3D. In addition to its visual...  Read More

Discovery Gateway Children's Museum
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

In 2006, the Children's Museum of Utah relocated to this all-new location. Undergoing an incredible, modernizing facelift, this once drab museum became a colorful, interactive, state-of-the-art wonderland for children and their parents. Now...  Read More

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art

Long known as the Salt Lake Art Center, the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art got a new name in 2012. Founded in 1931, it has grown to be a thriving community art hub, offering both exhibits and educational programs alike. On display are the works...  Read More

University Of Utah
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Photo courtesy of Edgar Zuniga Jr.

Housing a collection that includes 18,000 pieces and approximately 4,000 years' worth of artwork, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts contains numerous globally and locally relevant exhibits at any given time. In 2001, the museum relocated to the...  Read More

Natural History Museum of Utah
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Boren

Utah has an incredible natural history. From its remarkable red rock deserts, to the peaks of the Wasatch and Uinta mountains, this state contains stunning geology. And throughout time, it has been occupied by dinosaurs and humans alike. The...  Read More


Meet Christine Balaz

Christine Balaz began her unexpected writing career in Salt Lake City with her first book on Wasatch Skiing and Travel in 2006. On the subject of Utah, Christine has written numerous...  More About Christine