Provo is one of Utah’s most interesting towns, with a rich historical background and a lively community. It’s also home to the renowned Brigham Young University, which contains many unique and interesting museums that are worth exploring on your visit. There’s something for everyone in Provo’s collection of museums, ranging from science to anthropology to art and much more. Here are the biggest must-see museums in Provo, Utah.
The Monte L. Bean is a museum dedicated to the preservation and collection of biological specimens. One of their most unique features is that they host live animals shows for the purposes of education and entertainment. These shows illustrate the way that animals have adapted over time and the way they interact with nature. The museum is also home to a wide range of engaging exhibits, focusing on everything from endangered species to marine life to plants, birds, and much more.
This unique museum is home to a working Gutenberg Press replica, one of the only places you can see this. These machines were used to print many important documents throughout history, ranging from key political documents in the American revolution all the way to the Book of Mormon, which has important historical significance for many Utahns. Whether or not you’re religious, it’s fascinating to see just how printing techniques have evolved and how some of the most influential documents in the world came to be.
This large art museum is home to a range of permanent collections kept at the university, and they’re often rotated in and out so there’s always something new to see. The types and eras of art featured range quite widely, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. For example, current exhibitions in summer 2018 include Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs, the quirky modern works of Nina Katchadourian, and a collection of historical religious paintings, just to name a few. There’s also a sculpture garden outdoors to explore.
The mountain region of the country is home to many archaeological sites that have turned up significant fossils, so it’s no surprise that BYU is home to a fascinating paleontology museum. Dr. James A. Jensen worked at BYU for decades collecting, studying, and archiving fossils, which are now on display at the museum. Virtually everything he collected is on display here, and there’s plenty of fascinating information about the wide range of fossils. Although it’s not the biggest museum in town, it is one of the most unique.
Utah was settled by pioneers in the 1840s and ‘50s, and the Provo Pioneer Village transports visitors back to that era. The village actually contains some of the original structures that were built in Provo, as well as a range of historical artifacts, pioneer wagons, and an authentic general store. The pioneers at the time were true homesteaders, growing their own food, making their own clothes and tools, and even building their own homes. The village is completely interactive and is fascinating for both adults and children to explore. Please note that the village is only open to the public daily during the summer. Throughout the rest of the year, it’s open by appointment only.
The Museum of Ancient Life is located in Lehi, just a short drive from Provo, but it’s worth the travel time. This museum contains over 60 completed dinosaur skeletons, as well as several interactive exhibits for kids and adults. There’s a recreated crustaceous ocean as well as a carboniferous forest, which are designed to completely immerse you in ancient life. There’s a working paleontology lab where you can immerse yourself learning about fossils and ancient creatures. The museum also hosts community events throughout the year.
This small museum features anthropology exhibits designed to help you learn more about people around the world, both past and present. They have a variety of interactive exhibits designed for kids, and although the museum is small, everything is hands-on, so you can really make the most of the experience. The current exhibitions focus on Paquime, an abandoned city in northern Mexico with a rich archeological history, as well as Ostraka pottery, which was used as a form of communication. The museum’s activities strive to make these subjects relevant and interesting for kids today.
Located in nearby Springville, this charming art museum focuses on local artists and community events. The museum is also home to the area’s annual quilt show, and many of the other exhibitions have local significance, such as Mormon art and art of the American West. They also have a large collection of Soviet Russian art. The local focus sets this museum apart from others, and is interesting for both locals and tourists. It’s also housed in a gorgeous historical building. They host events very frequently, so be sure to check their current calendar before visiting.
The BYU planetarium hosts shows on Monday and Friday night that give you a unique view into space. Monday night shows are hosted by science professionals, while Friday night shows are hosted by students from the BYU Astronomical Society. Although you can only visit the planetarium during shows, it’s a wonderful and unique activity to try if you want something to do at night. It’s also a very affordable way to experience this natural scientific wonder, with shows costing $4 maximum.
Provo has quite the range of museums to explore, making for a very enlightening and educational experience. Most of the museums in Provo are kid-friendly as well, which make it an ideal destination for families. Tickets are quite affordable, and most of the museums host local events as well. This small town has developed a big presence in academia, and it’s really reflected in the high quality of the museums in the area.