The Best Museums in Salt Lake City, Utah

Photo of Pratyusha Prakash
12 December 2015

Salt Lake City has a lot to offer its visitors: ski slopes, canyons, and a fascinating and vibrant cultural life. Among its many entertainments it has a host of museums, some very traditional and some rather unusual. Whether you seek the curated gallery of the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art or are more intrigued by the bizarre Gilgal Sculpture Gardens, Salt Lake City’s got something to offer.

Gilgal Sculpture Gardens | ©sporst/Flickr

The Leonardo Museum

Named after the illustrious Leonardo Da Vinci, The Leonardo seeks to emulate and model its museum after the genius’ unusual talent in the fields of art, science and technology. It does so by combining all three in various exhibits and installations, and having several interactive and hands-on activities to further engage you. Whilst it’s a great place to take kids, with various activities being geared towards them specifically, it’s also suitably interesting for adults. There are frequent temporary exhibitions: one of the most commended recent ones was the exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Opening hours: 10am – 5pm; Fri 10am – 10pm

Daughters of Utah Pioneers

Dedicated to the study of the pioneers, this is also the largest museum in the world to house such a large collection of artefacts which are devoted to just one subject. The showcased memorabilia dates from the earliest settlers of the Valley of the Great Salt Lake to 1869. Alongside necessities there are beautifully crafted crystal salters and grand pine furniture. You can also use the History Department and the Photography Department for research purposes.

Opening hours: Mon – Sat 9am – 5pm; Wed 9am – 8pm

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art | ©PunkToad/Flickr

Gilgal Sculpture Garden

Created by Thomas Battersby Child Jr. in 1945, this bizarre garden gives form to his belief of putting the self in perspective to the greater mysteries of the world. There are 12 sculptures and various other inscriptions that include scriptures, poems and other philosophical texts. The best known sculpture of the garden is the solemn Sphinx, which has the body of a crouching animal (it is unclear which one) and the face of the LDS church founder Joseph Smith. Admission to the garden is free.

Opening hours: 8am – 8pm

Utah Museum of Contemporary Art

The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art is Utah’s only contemporary art museum, and it prides itself on the frequent featuring local and regional artists, although there are also occasional international features. The exhibitions rotate on a frequent basis, giving you a chance to explore the region’s best known artists as well as new and upcoming ones. It won Utah’s Best Museum award in 2011, and is definitely a must-see on the museum list.

Opening hours: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sat 11am – 6pm; Fri 11am – 9pm; closed Mon and Sun

Red Butte Garden | ©Amy the Nurse/Flickr

Red Butte Garden and Arboretum

Located at the Wasatch mountain range, Red Butte Garden has over one hundred acres of botanical vegetation and several hiking trails crisscrossing through its varied landscape. Red Butte Garden is a versatile botanical garden, and it has exhibitions that include sculptural and art exhibits in addition to floral exhibits, and it also hosts music concerts in the summer. There are themed gardens and seasonal exhibitions, as well as free movie nights during the summer.

Opening hours: 9am – 5pm

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