Family summer fun at the Church museum

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Family summer fun is synonymous with baseball games, swimming lessons, camp-outs and, for many Latter-day Saints living in or visiting Salt Lake City, day trips to the Museum of Church History and Art.

"Summer is the time when we see a lot of LDS families. . . . June, July and August are typically the busiest time of the year," said the museum's director, Glen Leonard.

Located just across the street from Temple Square's west entrance, the museum can enhance a visit to the Salt Lake Temple and neighboring visitors centers and historic buildings, say museum officials. The multi-storied museum offers plenty this season for youngsters — and their moms, dads, grandparents and Church groups.

• The museum is celebrating the future dedication of the new Nauvoo Illinois Temple with a foyer exhibit on the Nauvoo story.

The display includes paintings and drawings of Old Nauvoo, a model of the city when Nauvoo was the headquarters of the Church and part of a stone ox head that supported the baptismal font of the original Nauvoo Temple. History buffs will also enjoy viewing an original Nauvoo Legion rifle with the words "Nauvoo Legion" stamped across the barrel. It is the only such rifle known to exist today, Brother Leonard said.

The theater foyer gallery in the basement develops the Nauvoo theme in the museum. A collection of paintings from Nauvoo artist Sutcliffe Maudsley includes portraits he completed during sittings with Joseph Smith; the Prophet's wife, Emma; Hyrum Smith and other members of the original Nauvoo community.

"It's the most complete collection of Maudsley portraits ever shown," Brother Leonard said.

The temporary Nauvoo exhibits are scheduled to run through early November. The Nauvoo exhibits supplement the Nauvoo section of the museum's permanent exhibit on Church history on the museum's main floor. Other permanent exhibits, such as the portraits of the LDS presidents and apostles, also remain on display.

• "Families and Faith: Fabrics of Latter-day Saint Life," an exhibit of the museum's finest textiles, is also currently on display.

The exhibit celebrates the role of textiles in the Church and includes what's said to be the world's largest Navajo rug, which was woven for the Mesa Arizona Temple.

The museum is a popular site for summer tourists.
The museum is a popular site for summer tourists. Credit: Photo courtesy Church Public Affairs

• The popular interactive children's exhibit "Valiant Pioneer Children" continues through the summer.

Young folks learn through a series of interactive displays and projects what it was like to cross the ocean and plains as pioneer children.

"Valiant Pioneer Children" captures the LDS immigrant experience and life in Salt Lake City concluding with the building of the Salt Lake Temple. The exhibit was designed for younger children, but Brother Leonard said he sometimes sees teenagers sitting across from each other at the checkerboard game included in the exhibit.

• Visitors of all ages can enjoy "The Living Christ," an ongoing museum art exhibit depicting the Savior's mission.

Work from LDS artists in various media form the exhibit that recently testified of Christ's sacred work to Olympic visitors from around the world during the 2002 Winter Games.

The museum, located at 45 N. West Temple in Salt Lake City, 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.

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