City dwellers can meet the wild things near them, in exhibit coming to Natural History Museum of Utah

(Photo courtesy of Natural History Museum of Utah) A staffer at the Natural History Museum of Utah works on a giant flower patch, part of the new exhibition "Nature All Around Us," which opens Oct. 19, 2019, at the museum, at 301 Wakara Way, Salt Lake City.

Utahns will get to learn more about the creatures that live wild among us, at a new exhibit opening at the Natural History Museum of Utah.

“Nature All Around Us” is one of the biggest in-house exhibits the museum has created, and the most hands-on and interactive. Museum staff have spent three years developing it, and the opening marks the museum’s 50th anniversary.

The exhibit opens Oct. 19 at the museum, at 301 Wakara Way on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. It runs through May 25, 2020.

“Nature” will feature live plants and animals that call Utah’s cities and towns home. There also will be digital presentations, including 3-D mapped projections, a virtual bike ride, digital “periscopes” and challenging, fun games for all ages. Large-scale dioramas are included, with a crawl-through tunnel beneath a park. Patrons can don pollinator costumes and dance through a field of giant flowers.

The exhibit also features the work of local citizen scientists, including Utah’s internationally known arachnid identifier, Rebecca Ray.

Lisa Thompson, exhibit developer and interpretive planner for NHMU, said the exhibit aims “to challenge the notion that urban and natural environments are separate or at odds, by showing the many ways they are inextricably linked.”

The museum has consulted with more than 50 local experts, including urban foresters, conservation biologists, community garden organizers, a river restoration designer and several scientists. The exhibit also gives museumgoers an introduction to observation tools, including iNaturalist, a citizen science app that helps people identify and document biodiversity.

The exhibit’s opening day, Oct. 19, will be a celebration, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., open to the public. Local scientists will be on hand to talk about their research with visitors, who also will get close-up views of snakes, amphibians and bugs, and be able to make a backyard “bee hotel.”

NHMU opened in October 1969 in the George Thomas Building, on President’s Circle on the U. campus. The museum remained in that location until 2011, when it moved into its current digs at the Rio Tinto Center, just below the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

“Nature All Around Us” will be included in the museum’s regular admission: $14.95 for adults, $12.95 for seniors (65 and up) and young adults (13 to 24), $9.95 for children (3 to 12), and free for children 2 and under. Museum hours are daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.