1964 was a year near the end of a golden age of LDS public relations, and the Church’s participation at the World’s Fair held in Queens, N.Y. goes down in history as one of our most celebrated efforts.
The church sponsored The Mormon Pavilion, described in the 1964 World’s Fair official guide book as:
A striking pavilion, dominated by an artificial cloud and set amid ever-blooming gardens … A white cloud, visible for a great distance, hovers around three towers — replicas of the east tower of Salt Lake City’s famed Mormon Temple.
The pavilion was opened in April 1964 by David O. McKay, then 90 years old. The pavilion’s three towers were illuminated by lights at sunset.
A gilded angel Moroni was placed atop the center spire. The pavilion was set amidst flower gardens, and a reflecting pool stood in front of the building. Two twin exhibition halls containing 135 seat theaters alternately showed 15 minute films on Mormon history and the Church. A nine-ton replica of The Christus stood in one wing. Two 110 foot murals told the story of Christ and the Saints.
The main film shown, entitled “The Mormon Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair,” combined “Man’s Search For Happiness” with an introduction with scenes shot at the fair including interested visitors touring the World’s Fair Mormon Pavilion. Questions concerning the theme of the pavilion were posed in this film.
The theme of the Fair was “Peace Through Understanding.” There were a number of religious pavilions at the Fair, including a Billy Graham pavilion and a pavilion from the Vatican, which displayed Michaelangelo’s Pieta. But the Mormon Pavilion had the second-most visitors of all the pavilions, and claimed significant numbers of converts from the experience.
Attendance over 19 months tallied at 5,805,835 visitors. Following closure of the Fair in 1965, the Mormon Pavilion reportedly became a church on Long Island.