When Afton Higley came with her husband, Edwin, to the Museum of Church History and Art Feb. 13 to volunteer her services, she hardly could have anticipated the reception that they received.
The Higleys were met at the door by museum director Glen M. Leonard, who took them to a conference room, showered them with gifts while the staff of 25 employees applauded, and then personally guided them on a museum tour.Sister Higley was the millionth visitor to the museum, which will celebrate its fifth anniversary in April. Her husband was the million and first.
The Higleys are members of the Clearfield (Utah) North 12th Ward.
"No one's going to believe this!" Sister Higley exclaimed as Leonard presented the couple with an array of gifts: a copy of each catalog published by the museum in connection with its exhibits through the years; a copy of the most popular art print sold at the museum store, "Girl Among the Hollyhocks" by John Hafen; a plaque marking the visit of the 1 millionth visitor, inscribed with the date, Feb. 13, 1989; and a reproduction of an antique honey dish.
The Higleys, it turned out, have their own bees in Clearfield. But Sister Higley said she will probably fill the dish with candy instead of honey.
It was the couple's first visit to the museum.
"Somebody told us how nice it was and we thought we ought to come visit," said Higley, a former bishop.
But that was not the only reason the Higleys came. Hardly had Leonard introduced himself before Higley asked if there was something at the museum his wife could do as a volunteer. He has a downtown business, he explained, and it would be convenient for his wife to ride with him to Salt Lake City from Clearfield.
Leonard, of course, was delighted to have another museum volunteer. A staff member who lives in the same area as the Higleys offered to give her a ride whenever she does not come into Salt Lake City with her husband.
It is safe to say the Higleys felt they were among friends on their first museum visit.
The museum, located at 45 N. West Temple across the street from Temple Square, opened in April 1984. Exhibits are drawn from a collection of about 60,000 objects, art and historical artifacts pertaining to Church history and culture from around the world.