|approaching the foothills|
one thing that slowly dawns on you after you've lived in utah for a while is how layered it is. which is weird realization when your first impression of this place is more likely to one be of starkness. but after you explore the mountains, the seemingly static and stagnant Utah Lake and Great Salt Lake, and especially the redlands down south, you start to realize how much is going on here, how much has transpired here, and how much of it resides under the quiet and widespread surface of this place. you have to dig a little, but once you do, it's often profound.
i'd heard raves about the new natural history museum of utah in salt lake, and was anxious to get there. one friend said that you can be driving towards the building and looking straight at it, but not know it's there. he's right. it's architecturally integrated into the foothills and so does not stand out from it's environment. i had the same experience of not realizing it was there until we were almost upon it.
the exhibits have a similar vibe. it seems to take your eyes a while to adjust to all the layers of meaning and perspective built into each exhibit. you might notice you're standing on a plexiglass floor looking down at a life-sized model of a portion of a paleontolgy dig. then you realize that the assembled bones to your left are casts of the same dinosaurs remains displayed in the dig below you. behind you, on the wall, is a life-sized image of a tree that shows you the scale of the long-necked herbivore--how very, very tall a 90 foot long dinosaur really is, and how tall the tree she eats from. to the right you might see a map overlaid with a grid of the dinosaur bones in the dig you're standing on, which helps you really understand the complexity of the thirty-year dig that assembled the skeltons you're looking at. just a few feet ahead, six scientists on six screens propound their six different theories of how the bones all arrived at the same quarry, and you can vote on what seems the most likely theory to you. the little antechamber off the exhibit contains a digging box for kids to unearth models of these same dinosaur bones.
|windows bring perspective to the exhibits inside|
on the other wall hang skulls of the heads of a dozen or so dinosaurs, like a wall of prehistoric hunting trophies.
|prehistoric hunting trophies|
we only got to take a cursory look at the first exhibit on the ancient people of the region before it was time to go. i wished we had many more hours to explore, but we realized in the first exhibit that this was not a museum to rush through. i'm sure we'll go again soon, so watch for review part two.
as we left, i was thinking more about the ground below and the sky above than when we entered, the multivalence of this deceptively simple landscape, and also about how thoughtful and well-considered was the integrated and subtle approach of this important new resource in our community.
p.s. legwear: i'm wearing my thick black tights--they're making me feel safer as i had a horrible nightmare last night and have suffered a low-level anxiety all day. plus i feel like i'm in a super tight place today--not taking full breaths, etc. which is stupid of me, because i merely have the wrong perspective on things. it's all bad perception/perspective on my part.
inspiration: full breaths
looking forward: to having a better day tomorrow