Snipping a gold-colored ribbon Friday evening, March 26, President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency opened a new exhibit in the Museum of Church History and Art.
The exhibit, "The Mountain of the Lord's House - Construction of the Salt Lake Temple, 1853-1893," features a rare collection of documents, photos, original architectural drawings, art work, construction tools and furnishings pertaining to the Salt Lake Temple. April 6 marks the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the temple.President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, cut the first strand of ribbon to open the new exhibit. Salt Lake Temple Pres. Spencer H. Osborn cut the second strand, which was connected to the first by a large bow.
Several members of the Council of the Twelve and the Seventy attended the ceremony along with their wives. Also attending were members of the Relief Society general presidency.
Among special guests attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Bird and Mabel Brown of Springville, Utah, who represented the earliest couples married in the Salt Lake Temple who are still living. They were married Sept. 24, 1919. (According to responses in a search by the museum, Don Harvey and Mary Boyson Wall of Salem, Ore., are the couple married in the Salt Lake Temple the longest time ago who are still living. Brother and Sister Wall were married April 2, 1913. They are both 101 years old. See Church News March 20.)
Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy and executive director of the Church Historical Department conducted the brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. Elder Dunn, who also serves as president of the Utah Central Area, is chairman of the committee assigned by the First Presidency to organize events associated with the centennial of the Salt Lake Temple. Serving with Elder Dunn on that committee are his counselors in the area presidency, Elders Lloyd P. George and John E. Fowler of the Seventy, and Pres. Osborn.
After the ribbon was cut, Elder Dunn escorted President Monson and his wife, Frances J. Monson, on a tour of the new exhibit, pointing out items of particular interest.
Upon completing the tour, President Monson said: "This is a magnificent exhibit, worthy of the beautiful temple it features. We're overwhelmed with the sacrifice of the saints and the hardships the people endured to build the temple. But, as is portrayed in this exhibit, their eye was single to the glory of God. They worked with that in mind and gave all they had for the work of the Lord. We have a heritage to follow here, and I know our Heavenly Father expects us to do our work today as well as these pioneers did theirs in their day."
President Monson said the exhibit gives one a "feeling of history," of being connected with the past.
"This is a fantastic way for us to look at our roots," he said. "We aren't going anywhere without history. I think we'll do better tomorrow if we remember yesterday today."
He said the exhibit calls to attention the fact that Latter-day Saints are a temple-building people who recognize the significance of the eternal covenants and are anxious to do temple work for themselves and for those who have died.
President Monson noted that the Salt Lake Temple casts a long shadow, one that reaches to the far parts of the world and influences not only those who live in its presence in the Salt Lake Valley but also those who live far away. "Latter-day Saints everywhere look upon this temple as special," he said. "That's why Temple Square is so filled with members every year from all over the world.
"The Salt Lake Temple surely casts a special shadow for Frances and me. We were married here on Oct. 7, 1948. We enjoy coming back to it. And it is a privilege for me to come here every week when the presidency of the Church and the Twelve meet together, and once a month when all the General Authorities meet in the temple. It's like a point of reference. When you're in that beautiful temple and realize how many years went into its construction, what inspiration prevailed and directed those who worked upon it, you get the feeling you want to be as dedicated today as those people were in their day."
The Salt Lake Temple, President Monson affirmed, is part of the Latter-day Saints' spiritual heritage.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony with his wife, Colleen H. Maxwell, described the new exhibit as "outstanding, touching and faith promoting."
He said: "This exhibit reminds us how central to the Church and the gospel temples really are. I think it is one of the most outstanding exhibits we've ever had."
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, who attended with his wife, June D. Oaks, said he was impressed with the artifacts assembled that have never been displayed before. "The new knowledge and insights that one can get about the building of the temple by seeing this exhibit are remarkable," he said. "I learned so much by seeing this exhibit. I think every member of the Church who can get to Salt Lake City needs to see this exhibit. It will strengthen faith and help increase appreciation for our predecessors."
Elder Dunn said: "The Salt Lake Temple is a representation of our spiritual heritage. Every Latter-day Saint will benefit by going to see this exhibit, not only by viewing the artifacts and learning how the temple was constructed, but also to gain a feeling for the spirit of the people who actually constructed this magnificent edifice. Going through the exhibit, you gain a better insight into the great sacrifice the people made to construct this building and of their great faith."
Museum director Glen M. Leonard briefly described the exhibit: "In addition to the documents, photos, architectural drawings, art work, construction tools and temple furnishings, we have personalized the story of the temple by telling eye-witness accounts taken from personal letters and diaries of those who participated in its construction."
The exhibit features 19 separate display areas grouped in five main sections, according to Robert Davis, curator. They are:
Section One: Initial planning and design, groundbreaking and cornerstone laying ceremonies, plus information on the architects.
Section Two: History of the construction, including challenges of construction and details about the building materials.
Section Three: Review of the temple design, including focus on architectural symbolism.
Section Four: Capstone ceremony of 1892, dedicatory services the next year and information on the design and finishing work of the interior.
Section Five: The purpose and meaning of the temple.
The exhibit will be open free to the public through Feb. 21, 1994. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays; and 10a.m.-7 p.m. weekends and holidays. The museum will be closed Easter. The museum is located at 45 N. West Temple, across the street west of Temple Square.