1940s: An era of change
In the 1940s, the radical transformations and revolutionary discoveries in physics and chemistry, spurred by thinkers such as Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr, were accompanied by Dr. Henry Eyring’s exploration of transitional states of matter which set the tone for chemistry in the latter half of the 20th century, whose work still resonates today.
The George Thomas Building, as the U of U library, was a knowledge center during a time of these many exciting intellectual movements.
1950s: The Growth of Education
With the close of World War II and the continuation of the G.I. Bill, the 1950s were a time of rapid growth for universities around the country, and the University of Utah was no exception. This expansion of higher education set the stage for young researchers and scientists nationwide and at the U. Continuing as a library, the George Thomas Building was home to new generations of U students, and innumerable legacies of social connections and creativity.
1960s - 1970s: The Utah Museum of Natural History
In 1968, amidst new social movements and upheaval on college campuses, construction of the new J. Willard Marriott Library was completed, and the George Thomas Building was reinvented as the home of the new Utah Museum of Natural History. Consolidating collections from geology, anthropology, and biology, Don Hague, the first director of the Museum, worked by turns as an acquisitions expert, exhibit designer, and research scientist, making the museum into the destination for public science awareness and education that it is today.
1980s -1990s: Becoming a Global University
Innovations in science and technology continued in the 1980s and the 1990s, fueled in part by U of U alumni such as Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, and John Warnock, the co-founder of Adobe. Alongside these entrepreneurs, startups originating at the U increased, and an increasingly diverse student body became more engaged in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Well on its way to becoming a global university, the U was by now established as the flagship institution of higher education in the State of Utah, and showed no signs of slowing down.
2000s: A New Chapter for Science at the U
With the Natural History Museum’s new building underway, the George Thomas Building was ready for a new chapter in its venerable history. Because of the accelerating growth of the sciences at the University of Utah and the generous support provided by Gary and Ann Crocker the campaign to develop the Crocker Science Center began in earnest. In the coming months and years, the George Thomas Building will become a setting for even more scientific discoveries.