Temple Square opens 3 new exhibits

The North Visitors’ Center on Temple Square has changed a bit with the arrival of three new exhibits on April 2. The three exhibits, “Because He Lives,” “8 Stories,” and “Following Christ Through the Book of Mormon,” are designed to help members and other visitors come closer to Christ.

“Because He Lives” is a series of artistic photographs depicting events from the birth, ministry and Resurrection of the Savior. Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission President David Poulsen said, “They’re very representative of what we’re trying to teach. ... It’s a fresh look in the visitors’ center here. Because they are photographs, they seem so very lifelike.” President Poulsen noted that the new series “gives a little more variety and ability to teach about the mission, Resurrection and Atonement of Christ.”

Also on the same floor in the southeast corner of the visitors’ center is a new exhibit focused on missionary work. “8 Stories” features the journeys of eight young people who served in the California San Diego Mission. They are the same missionaries featured in “The District 2” series.

“Returned missionaries like [the exhibit],” President Poulsen said. “People familiar with ‘The District’ like to see the rest of the story. People who kind of want to know, ‘Well, who are you missionaries?’ Or ‘My son’s going to go on a mission, but I’m not a member of the Church. What’s he going to be doing?’ … It’s an educational, informative picture into the missionaries of the Church.”

The room is set up like a small theater. The backdrop of the screens at the front of the room is hundreds of missionary name tags. In February, the Temple Square Facebook page asked missionaries to begin donating 1,200 missionary name badges to fill the new exhibit. Within a month, over 1,500 people donated their nametags to the exhibit, with many to spare. “They come from all over the world and from all different times,” President Poulsen said. “Some have served many years ago and in other languages. You see some of the designs are a little bit different. So it’s a good, broad representation.” The extras will be sent back to their owners.

On an iPad in the center of the room, visitors can pick which stories they watch and listen to. For instance, to listen to Sister Zaldivar’s story of how she decided to go on a mission and what her experience has been, one would simply select Janet’s icon on the iPad. President Poulsen said that each video “shows [the missionaries] before their mission, it shows them during their mission, it talks to some of the investigators and where are they now. And then it shows the missionaries now, several years after ‘The District’ was filmed. What are they doing in their lives? How did their missions impact their lives?”

The “8 Stories” exhibit, President Poulsen said, “seems to be of greatest appeal to missionaries, to families of missionaries and to the general public who wonders, ‘How do you become a missionary? And is it forever? Is it a lifetime?’ It just gives them that good picture.”

The third exhibit is one that focuses on the Book of Mormon. Where a table with various translations of the Book of Mormon once stood, a new interactive display has been placed. “Following Christ Through the Book of Mormon,” is a private learning experience that helps teach visitors the message of the Book of Mormon and the questions of the soul that it helps answer.

President Poulsen said that each segment can “accommodate a family or a couple and a pair of missionaries; kids can sit on the floor. It’s fairly straightforward. We can have four of these going at once.” Each has a screen, a console to choose which video segments to listen to and a cubbyhole with tabbed and highlighted copies of the Book of Mormon.

Five questions are each based on principles of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Each video segment explains the principle and invites the guests to read along with selected passages in the Book of Mormon.

“This is to give them a little bit of an idea of what are the teachings of Christ on certain key doctrines found in the Book of Mormon,” President Poulsen explained. “The language it uses to teach the gospel principles is so simple and clear that a person from another culture can understand it, a child can understand it. It teaches these doctrines that we often use Church jargon to explain. It teaches these principles in everyday, very simple, very clear sentences so you can’t mistake what you’re hearing.”

“Following Christ Through the Book of Mormon” is set up in a way that visitors can experience it on their own, guiding themselves on a personal tour through the Book of Mormon. It is also an effective tool for missionaries who are teaching an investigator. “We don’t want to be push-button missionaries where we just set people down and say, ‘Push the button’ and let this teach them,” President Poulsen said. “This should reinforce, restate what we have already taught because the missionaries teach by the Spirit.”

The “8 Stories” exhibit on Temple Square is the third such exhibit at a visitors’ center. It first opened in the Washington DC Temple Visitors’ center in 2012, followed by the Los Angeles Temple Visitors’ center earlier this year, according to the Missionary Department. “Because He Lives” exists in some form at all visitors’ centers around the world. Temple Square is the seventh visitors’ center to feature the “Following Christ Through the Book of Mormon” exhibit.

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