11/18/2011 07:08 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2011

Natural History Museum Of Utah Reopens In $103 Million Building (PHOTOS)

The Natural History Museum of Utah reopens to the public on Friday in a brand-new, environmentally-conscious building funded by a $103 million public-private partnership. Called the Rio Tinto Center, after the mining company that chipped in $15 million for the facility, it's located on the campus of the University of Utah, just a few miles east of downtown Salt Lake City.

The new museum will have 10 galleries of exhibits, spanning more than 50,000 square feet of space. Despite the scale, admission is $9, cheaper than tickets to the Field Museum in Chicago or American Museum of Natural History in New York. (Though not cheaper than the free admission to the Smithsonian-curated National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC.)

One architect who worked on Salt Lake's new museum hopes the stunning building will become a symbol of the city, saying in a video teaser for the project:

"My hope is that the architecture of the Natural History Museum of Utah will do for Salt Lake City and the region what the Sydney Opera House did for Australia: become a definitive icon, inseparable from its place and its memory."

The museum is seeking gold-level LEED certification for the building, which would make it one of just 18 such environmentally built and maintained structures in the region.

The New Natural History Museum of Utah
The New Natural History Museum of Utah