Last week, a group of MHA attendees gathered at the Museum of Church History and Art, across from the Salt Lake Temple, for a special tour. I have been to the Museum before, but some recent changes are notable. Simply stated, the Museum is a treasure. And God bless Marjorie Conder.
Marjorie is responsible for three exhibits on which we concentrated: the Children’s exhibit, the Relief Society exhibit and the Presidents of the Church exhibit. These, of course, do not obviate the rest of the museum; the batik Salt Lake City Temple and Deseret currency are favorites. Still, it is perhaps surprising that my two young boys spent an hour and a half in the museum and did not want to leave (though, I could have done without the souvenir made-in-China Liahona).
The Children’s exhibit is quite large. There are many activities that relate to our being children of God. Puzzles, mazes and wall games. You can build your own temple with custom wood blocks. You can color your own pentagram (I still don’t know how they nixed weather-vane Moroni and yet kept the pentagram windows on the Nauvoo Temple). And on Tuesday morning it was pretty much vacant.
The Relief Society exhibit is special. The original minutes of the organization, in which Eliza recorded so many important events lay at the entrance. I read Joseph’s words on the open page. There are all sorts of artifacts, both antique and contemporary and they are all worthy of our attention. More than a decade ago, a Young Women’s president in Utah canceled their budget and instead used the money to create meaningful ways to help the afflicted. Her local inspiration resulted in the adoption of their activities on a Stake and Church-wide basis. Hygiene kits. Literacy kits. Birthing kits. I can think of no greater inspiration for local leaders to affect the Church. There is also the 1905 Relief Society Banner.
The Presidents of the Church exhibit is simply fun. Brigham Young’s sunglasses are completely hip. McKay’s white double breasted suit. Political cartoons about Ezra Taft Benson. My favorite was a replica of the Conference Center’s walnut podium. You can stand behind it and pretend. It has a 10 inch LCD monitor and a white leather hand rest. There is no red light (I miss those podiums — my one growing up had count down lights and a turn around signal), but I guess you could get a flash on the Screen in red 100 pt. type: “Who do you think you are? LeGrand Richards? Sit Down! Now!”
There are many Church sites that everyone should see sometime in their life. The Museum of Church History and Art is one that you should see regularly.