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New Church History Museum exhibit features artwork and faith of Minerva Teichert

Visitors can see 45 original pieces of art created by Teichert, a hard-working mother and wife of a Wyoming rancher

Minerva Teichert created one of her most prominent paintings, “Christ in a Red Robe,” in 1945.

The painting with a golden frame depicts Jesus Christ returning to earth clothed in bright red robes of judgement. His outstretched hands bear the marks of His Crucifixion. On Christ’s right hand, followers look up and reach out to Him; on the opposite side, faces hide in gloom.

The newly conserved painting has a painted frame that many people have not seen, explained art curator Laura Paulsen Howe.

“I think people will be excited to see ‘Christ in a Red Robe,’” Howe said. “This is really the first time since about the late 1950s that people will see ‘Christ in a Red Robe’ in the way Minerva intended it to be seen. It’s been an important piece for lots of people who have seen that work and to feel the love of the Savior in their lives.”

Howe said this was the first conservation of this painting since 1978. That effort helped restore the painting following damage sustained in a chapel fire in Denver in 1964. The new work done on the painting will allow its viewers to see the edge of the painting — the frame — which was previously not visible.

The artwork “Christ in a Red Robe”
The artwork “Christ in a Red Robe” is featured in an exhibit showcasing 45 of Minerva Teichert’s paintings is open at the Church History Museum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from July 6, 2023, to Aug. 3, 2024. | Elder Hunter Winterton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The powerful image is the first of 45 paintings that will greet visitors entering the new Church History Museum exhibit, “With This Covenant in My Heart: The Art and Faith of Minerva Teichert.”

The free exhibit, which opened Tuesday, July 6, and runs until Aug. 3, 2024, is designed to show Teichert’s devotion to her faith and artwork.

“The art of Minerva Teichert plays a significant role in the history of Latter-day Saint visual culture,” Howe said, “and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to ensure her work will endure for future generations.”

Minerva Tiechert’s ‘rich legacy’

Teichert (1888-1976) found time to paint while raising a family with her husband on a cattle ranch in Cokeville, Wyoming. She was also involved in her community, loved learning, studying scripture and doing family history work.

As a muralist, she painted stories of the Savior, the Restoration of the gospel, Old Testament themes like the gathering of Israel, Book of Mormon narratives, and stories of the western United States, including indigenous peoples and 19th century settlers.

Minerva Teichert on a horse.
Minerva Teichert on a horse. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

She created between 300 and 400 pieces of art in her lifetime. An exact number isn’t known because a full catalog doesn’t exist, Howe said.

“Minerva Teichert leaves a rich legacy and example for museum visitors today,” Howe said. “Teichert’s faith in Jesus Christ gave context to all her activities, whether she was churning butter, reading stories to her children at the breakfast table or painting grand narratives. Her legacy has been especially important to Latter-day Saint women who have drawn inspiration from her richly layered life.”

The new Minerva Teichert exhibit

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a major patron of Teichert’s works in the 1930s and 1940s. Due to the efforts of her friend and agent Alice Merrill Horne, Teichert’s works have been displayed in Latter-day Saint meetinghouses and in other church buildings, such as the Lion House, tabernacles and the Manti Utah Temple world room.

The Church has contemplated a Minerva Teichert exhibit for a long time, but the real work began four or five years ago. The exhibit was delayed due to the onset of the pandemic, said Riley Lorimer, the director of the Church History Museum.

The exhibition is organized around Teichert’s account of falling ill during the 1918 influenza pandemic. Feeling close to death, Teichert remembered the art training she had recently completed, and prayed.

“I promised the Lord if I’d finished my work and He’d give me some more, I’d gladly do it,” she said later. “With this covenant in my heart, I began to live.”

President Camille N. Johnson and Sister Kristin M. Yee, visit the Minerva Teichert exhibit.
Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson and her second counselor, Sister Kristin M. Yee, visit the Minerva Teichert exhibit at the Church History Museum on June 28, 2023. | Elder Hunter Winterton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Of the exhibit’s 45 paintings, more than 60% belong to the Church History Museum. A small group of paintings come from the BYU Museum of Art, and others are on loan from private collectors.

The exhibit includes a detailed timeline of her life and work, as well as a section designed to teach visitors about the conservation efforts undertaken by the Church to preserve her legacy for future generations.

Visitors will find a few everyday items that Teichert incorporated into her artwork, including a brass bucket and a paisley shawl.

Throughout the exhibit, visitors will see quotes from Teichert reproduced on the walls.

One reads: “I love the truths of the gospel so much and the Lord has blessed me so wonderfully at times that I feel quite unworthy of it all.”

“The gospel of Jesus Christ was the animating force of her life,” Lorimer said. “She painted scenes from scripture and Church history with the express purpose of helping more people learn and be inspired by the truth she found there.”

Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson and her second counselor, Sister Kristin M. Yee, visited the Teichert exhibit June 28.

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to see her beautiful work,” President Johnson said. “I have always admired her tenacity and her testimony.”

President Johnson said Teichert’s paintings of women reaching out to Christ reflect His deep compassion.

“I think His facial features are so beautiful and His arms outstretched, which is positively the message of Relief Society — that our Savior stands ready to provide us with relief,” she said.

President Camille N. Johnson and Sister Kristin M. Yee, look at Minerva Teichert’s 1945 painting “Christ in a Red Robe.”
Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson, center, and her second counselor, Sister Kristin M. Yee, right, look at Minerva Teichert’s 1945 painting “Christ in a Red Robe,” on June 28, 2023. | Elder Hunter Winterton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Two interesting features of the Minerva Teichert exhibit

There are two unique features in the exhibit.

One showcases the small fragment remains of Teichert’s “Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood.” The rest of the painting was destroyed in 2010 in the historic Provo Tabernacle fire. Fortunately, the painting was previously photographed and a digital reproduction hangs above the fragment remains.

A small fragment of Minerva Teichert’s painting, “Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” at the Church History Museum.
A small fragment of Minerva Teichert’s painting, “Restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood,” which was destroyed in the 2010 Provo Tabernacle fire, is on display at the Church History Museum. | Elder Hunter Winterton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Carrie Snow, manager for collections care, became enamored with the painting and Teichert’s artwork when the painting was cleaned and conserved prior to hanging in the Provo Tabernacle.

“It’s lovely, and it’s gorgeous. You understand the life and the movement that she has on her canvas. I knew about her, but this is what made me fall in love with her artwork,” Snow said. “Sadly, it’s the one that got burned up.”

For the second unique feature, the exhibit recreated Teichert’s living room studio, including a section of wall where she tacked up her canvas, the kitchen doorway, windows and a recreated bureau with drawers that open to reveal various items.

The purpose is to show that Teichert was rooted in her home and family life, Lorimer said.

“There are lots of stories from her children, from other people who knew her, she would paint on the canvas, step into the kitchen and stir the stew, come back, paint a little more, stop to chat with the neighbor, make them pause and pose for a painting,” Lorimer said. “We wanted people to be able to understand that her life was not just the life of an artist, it was the life of a mother, a Latter-day Saint and a ranch wife.”

Teichert family tour

More than 225 members of the Teichert family toured the exhibit prior to the grand opening.

“It was a wonderful evening,” Lorimer said. “We had positive interactions with the family. We had a lot of people express gratitude for the exhibit. We had opportunities to have really positive and productive conversations with lots of members of the family.”

An exhibition showcasing 45 of Minerva Teichert’s paintings at the Church History Museum.
An exhibit showcasing 45 of Minerva Teichert’s paintings is open at the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City from July 6, 2023, to Aug. 3, 2024. | Elder Hunter Winterton, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Manti Utah Temple murals update

Howe provided an update on the Church’s effort to preserve murals painted by Teichert in the Manti Utah Temple.

“The restoration of the murals is done. They are cleaned. They are beautiful,” Howe said. “We invite everyone to come see them when the Manti temple holds their open house.”

Learn more about the exhibit at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

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