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Go behind the scenes at Natural History Museum of Utah with actor Ty Burrell

Webcast events to replace annual public opening of museum’s treasured collections

The Natural History Museum of Utah at the Rio Tinto Center in Salt Lake City.
The Natural History Museum of Utah at the Rio Tinto Center in Salt Lake City.
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The Natural History Museum of Utah’s annual Behind the Scenes event will be hosted online this year with the help of a special guest — “Modern Family” actor Ty Burrell.

Burrell will introduce a series of free one-hour online webcasts that will explore the museum’s collections starting Sunday at 7 p.m. The webcasts will allow viewers to become Burrell’s sidekick as he begins each special by virtually touring the museum’s coolest collections, chats with the museum’s director and gives his own scientific spin on things. Participants will then be treated to an in-depth discussion with museum scientists followed by a chance to ask questions of researchers during a live Q&A.

The reinvented annual event will kick off Saturday, Nov. 14, when the museum goes live with five brand-new web experiences specific to anthropology, botany, entomology, vertebrates and paleontology. These sites will be treasure troves filled with some combination of rare collections objects, brand-new blog posts, 3D models and videos available on-demand.

“We wanted to deliver something truly innovative to continue in the beloved tradition of our annual Behind the Scenes with the current restrictions in place,” Jason Cryan, the museum’s executive director, said in a statement.

“We’re grateful for the generous funding from the Salt Lake County Community Partners grant as well as the additional support provided by the Alternative Visions Fund to make this possible. The new format allows for more — and deeper — access to museum collections than ever before.”

In addition to Behind the Scenes, the museum has utilized the funding to partner with Salt Lake County libraries, Salt Lake City libraries and community-based organizations to provide 7,200 science kits to geographically and demographically diverse families in Salt Lake County.

The kits, which are a complement to the online expeditions, include English and Spanish-language anthropology and paleontology education with “Meet the Scientist” materials featuring museum experts; insights and stories about artifacts from museum collections; and activity supplies for participants to complete a science-themed project.

The kits will be available at local libraries while supplies last on Saturday, and links to each of the webcasts will be published that day at nhmu.utah.edu/events/behind-scenes-reimagined.