Vibration based damage detection is very popular in the civil engineering area. Especially, special structures like dams, long-span bridges and high-rise buildings, need continues monitoring in terms of mechanical properties of material, static and dynamic behavior. It has been stated in the International Commission on Large Dams that more than half of the large concrete dams were constructed more than 50 years ago and the old dams have subjected to repeating loads such as earthquake, overflow, blast, etc.,. So, some unexpected failures may occur and catastrophic damages may be taken place because of theloss of strength, stiffness and other physical properties of concrete. Therefore, these dams need repairs provided with global damage evaluation in order to preserve structural integrity. The paper aims to show the effectiveness of the model updating method for global damage detection on a laboratory arch dam model. Ambient vibration test is used in order to determine the experimental dynamic characteristics. The initial finite element model is updated according to the experimentally determined natural frequencies and mode shapes. The web thickness is selected as updating parameter in the damage evaluation. It is observed from the study that the damage case is revealed with high accuracy and a good match is attained between the estimated and the real damage cases by model updating method.