Explore the Themes

The landscape of the Western United States and the lives of its inhabitants were forever altered in the decades following settlers’ unearthing of California gold deposits in 1848. An influx of people and machinery crisscrossed the land on a previously-unimaginable scale, as individual prospectors, corporate interests, and government officials all sought to extract wealth from natural resources that lay beneath the earth’s surface. Mined materials are now so omnipresent in our daily lives—even powering the technology that makes this exhibition possible—that they are nearly invisible. The exhibition themes explore the impacts and legacy of mining through objects from the J. Willard Marriott Library's Special Collections and artwork from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah.