Viewing the new Latino-themed exhibition at the Church History Museum is akin to dining at the world's most well-stocked buffet. There are simply too many offerings to enjoy everything in a single visit.
It's a rich, interactive exhibit — incorporating photography, video and design to share the LDS experiences and testimonies of some two dozen individuals and couples from Latin America. Curators hope "Mi Vida, Mi Historia: Stories of faith and inspiration from Latino Latter-day Saints" can allow museum visitors to better understand how members from Latin America — each infused with the nuances and traditions of his or her own national culture — can enrich and strengthen the Church worldwide.
"This is not intended to be a history of the Church in Latin America," said Ray Halls, the exhibit curator. Instead, the subjects of the exhibit are allowed to share their own unique histories that formed testimonies that unify them with fellow LDS Latinos and Church members everywhere. Their common belief in Christ harmonizes their distinct voices into a chorus of one.
The talents of four LDS portrait photographers — Kent Miles, Mark J. Davis, Craig Dimond and Craig J. Law — were enlisted to photograph the 24 subjects. Some photos are in color, others in black and white. The photographers utilized their own distinctive techniques to capture their subjects in a variety of environments, revealing the diversity that exists within the vibrant LDS Latino community.
Narrative panels placed below each of the portraits include comments about the particular members from both curators and photographers. The exhibit is entirely bilingual, so each panel includes text in English and Spanish.
"We wanted to reach out to Latinos in this area and help them better understand the Church," said Brother Halls.
But "Mi Vida, Mi Historia" offers far more than photos. The exhibit is perhaps anchored in a 30-minute video that is screened inside the exhibit's mini-theater. In the video, several of the portrait subjects share their personal experiences of discovering the Church and building their own witnesses of Christ. Their stories are often heartbreaking and inspiring as they speak of life's many challenges and the comfort they found in the gospel.
The subjects also share their stories in thematic video programs accessed by touch-screens on video monitors at two kiosks within the exhibit.
Again, both the video program and the touch-screen features are offered in English and Spanish.
Visitors could spend hours enjoying each of the programs, so curators are hoping folks make many return trips to "Mi Vida, Mi Historia."
The exhibition, opened Dec. 5, will run through Jan. 16, 2012, and is expected be the first in a series of Latino-themed exhibits in the coming years.
The Church History Museum is located across the street from the west entrance of Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The facility is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Admission is free.