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Church history: Permanent exhibit aging well at museum

Many yet to experience power of seeing relics

Millions of visitors to the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City have wandered through the museum's permanent exhibit that continues to serve as a three-dimensional overview of Church history and the LDS experience.

"Celebrating with Music" display at the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah.  photo: michael brandy.  7.1.03                               (Submission date: 07/01/2003)
"Celebrating with Music" display at the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah. photo: michael brandy. 7.1.03 (Submission date: 07/01/2003) Photo: deseret morning news

But Steve Olsen, the museum's acting director, suspects thousands more living within driving distance of the downtown museum have yet to experience the permanent exhibit on the museum's main floor. Others perhaps dashed through the exhibit in a rush years ago during a break in their Christmas shopping. And a few may have forgotten how they felt viewing the Joseph Smith death mask or an original copy of the Book of Mormon for the first time.

Summer's here — an ideal time to take in the artifact-laden historical display for the first time, or for an encore visit.

Now in it's thirteenth year, the permanent historical exhibit remains the anchor of the museum. It's aged well, said Brother Olsen. While the exhibit's galleries chronicling the Church's history from its beginnings to today have changed little over the years, "it's even more powerful."

The exhibit continues to touch lives. Three-dimensional historical objects found in the exhibit such as the watch John Taylor was wearing when he was shot in Carthage Jail or the death masks cast following the murders of Joseph Smith and his older brother, Hyrum, often interact with museum visitors, confirming personal testimonies.

Brother Olsen said staff members and volunteers at the museum often find folks wandering through the exhibit in tears, touched by a specific artifact that strikes emotions or memory.

Besides being a testimony booster to Church members, the exhibit serves as a Church History 101 course for the thousands of visitors to Salt Lake City who arrive knowing little about the religion. Not long ago, an Iranian film crew doing a documentary on the Church recorded footage from the exhibit as an orientation of sorts to the LDS experience. Other dignitaries from around the world have learned of the First Vision, the restoration of the Church, the pioneer migration to the Salt Lake Valley and the Church's ongoing global expansion through the museum's permanent historical exhibit, Brother Olsen said.

The museum is located at 45 N. West Temple in Salt Lake City and is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday, Sunday and most holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free. Call (801) 240-4615 for additional information.

E-mail: [email protected]


12-year old Derek Garfield looks at the "Mormon emigrant Ship" display at the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah.   Derek and family traveled from Havelock North Carolina to Salt Lake for a Family Reunion. photo: michael brandy.  7.1.03                               (Submission date: 07/01/2003)
12-year old Derek Garfield looks at the "Mormon emigrant Ship" display at the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah. Derek and family traveled from Havelock North Carolina to Salt Lake for a Family Reunion. photo: michael brandy. 7.1.03 (Submission date: 07/01/2003) Photo: deseret morning news

Derek Garfield, 12, of Havelock, N.C., studies a model of a Mormon emigrant ship on display at the Museum of Church History and Art.

Debbie Nelsen from Parker Colorado visits the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah.  photo: michael brandy.  7.1.03                               (Submission date: 07/01/2003)
Debbie Nelsen from Parker Colorado visits the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah. photo: michael brandy. 7.1.03 (Submission date: 07/01/2003) Photo: deseret morning news

Debbie Nelsen of Parker, Colo., peruses documents on display in one of the galleries that form the permanent Church history exhibit at the museum. The exhibit continues to educate folks from around the globe about the LDS experience.

Museum Patrons visit the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah.  photo: michael brandy.  7.1.03                               (Submission date: 07/01/2003)
Museum Patrons visit the Museum of Church history in Salt Lake utah. photo: michael brandy. 7.1.03 (Submission date: 07/01/2003) Photo: deseret morning news

Museum patrons enjoy looking over a display at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. The museum, located across the street from Temple Square, has become a popular tourist destination.

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