"I Am a Child of God."
The opening words of a Primary song and, perhaps, the most familiar, beloved idiom in the Church. The youngest Sunbeam can sing its verses. Grown-ups take comfort in its simple, timeless message that anchors the gospel.
Indeed, "I Am a Child of God" seems an obvious title for a major exhibit at the Museum of Church History and Art. The recently opened, hands-on exhibit is designed for curious boys and girls. Unlike most museum displays, touching is encouraged. The activities in the many interactive stations can entertain, teach, remind and inspire.
Yet the exhibition isn't exclusive to patrons with a mouth full of milk teeth. Teens and adults can also be reminded of the basic, essential principles and ordinances eternally linked to the notion "I Am a Child of God." Here the gospel experience is captured in displays that range from "Families Are Forever" to the blessings of the temple.
"We intend for families to interact together" during their exhibit visit, said museum curator Marj Conder.
The exhibition stretches across several galleries and includes play areas, take-home projects, stories from the scriptures and video presentations. Each display tells a chapter from life's story beginning in the pre-mortal existence and continuing on through the eternities. Youngsters who spend a couple of hours each Sunday in the ward nursery can switch roles and play nursery leaders. Video clips of President Gordon B. Hinckley demonstrate the blessing of modern-day prophets. And little ones learning about the First Christmas can don the shepherd's robe, surround themselves with toy sheep and participate in a Nativity scene. Children can also steady themselves by holding to an iron rod while traversing a narrow plank.
Meanwhile, visitors of all ages can take home a CTR rubbing in several different languages.
The display is presented largely in Spanish and English, a nod to the diversity of the museum's visitors.
Sister Conder said she is thrilled with how the many displays have already been received. At the exhibit's recent opening "there wasn't anything that wasn't working," she said.
"I Am a Child of God" opens in time to catch many of the families who will be visiting the annual Christmas light display and activities on Temple Square. However, visitors will have to work a bit harder to find the museum this year. Because of the ongoing Tabernacle renovation, the west entrance of Temple Square is closed. Visitors will have to walk around the block to reach the museum, which is located just west of Temple Square. It's worth the few extra steps.
"I Am a Child of God" will be open through January 18, 2009. As always, admission is free.
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