A colorful exhibit highlighting Latter-day Saint families from around the world recently opened at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitors Center. "Eternal Families Worldwide" will remain through April 11. It is open during regular visitors center hours, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Native clothing, decorative artifacts, housewares, musical instruments and Church-related items have been loaned by members of the Church from many countries who live in the area around Washington, D.C.
"This exhibit represents the international character of the Church," said visitors center cultural arts committee member Kathleen Moorehead, who organized the show with Julia Marcois. "It reinforces the message that the gospel is for all of God's children, and that our beliefs are consistent throughout the world."
Asia, Africa, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, and the islands of the sea are represented in the exhibit. Background music consists of Primary songs by children in many languages.
Colorful flags of more than 100 countries, loaned from the Church's Public Affairs Office in New York City, surround the walls as a backdrop and go hand-in-hand with the painting "Children of the World," by LDS artist Greg Olsen, that is a focal point of the exhibit.
Visitors center director Robert C. Rich explained that the original painting, depicting the Savior with many children in native costume, normally hangs on the center's lower floor, in the foyer of the theater. It was moved upstairs during the exhibit because of its appropriateness to the international theme.
"It really shows the diversity of God's children," he said.
On the opposite wall is featured a large, three-part map with red dots showing the location of 150 Latter-day Saint temples around the globe, including those currently operating or announced. Below the map is displayed white clothing worn by Church members for such ordinances as blessing, baptism and temple sealing. A continuous video loop on a nearby big-screen monitor shows photos of many temples.
Framed copies of The Proclamation on the Family and selected scriptural passages about our Heavenly Father's children are also displayed.
One purpose of the exhibit, said Sister Moorehead, who is a member of the Frederick Maryland Stake, is to "demonstrate the importance of the family and Heavenly Father's purposes, which are designed to help us return to live in His presence, united as families eternally."
Another part of the exhibit includes copies of personal histories submitted by immigrant members in the Washington, D.C. area, telling about their conversion to the gospel and baptism into the Church.
Sister Marcois, from the Annandale Virginia Stake and a new member of the cultural arts committee and the exhibit's designer, said she worried over the two-month-long gathering process about doing justice to it all.
"But as the artifacts and personal histories came in," she said, "I realized they were telling the story. All I was doing was shining a spotlight on it."
She especially felt that during the process of editing the histories and putting them in binders to be read by visitors to the exhibit. "I was steeped in that message every day."
Members living in the Washington D.C. area who are converts from other countries are still invited to share their experiences at this Web site: https://sites.google.com/site/VisitorsCenterFamilyExhibit/