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Smithsonian to feature early Mormon artifacts in new exhibit

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Two gold coins from the pioneer settlers in Utah in the late 1840s will be part of the display.

Two gold coins from the pioneer settlers in Utah in the late 1840s will be part of the display.

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Several artifacts from the Restoration period of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in the “Religion in Early America” exhibit, according to a video from Mormon Newsroom.

The year-long exhibit will open in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

The LDS artifacts featured include an 1830 Book of Mormon, two banknotes from the Kirtland Safety Society, two rare gold coins created by Mormon settlers in Utah and a page of the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon. The items are on loan from church headquarters in Salt Lake City.

According to the video, it is estimated that only 700-800 copies of the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon exist. They are so rare, in fact, that one is in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress.

Seeing a page of the manuscript in the Smithsonian is a special opportunity, says church history archivist Brandon Metcalf in the video. “People have always had to come to Salt Lake City to see any of the pages of the original manuscript,” he said.

Mormon heritage is only one aspect of the religion exhibit. The Smithsonian website says, “The objects will represent the diverse range of Christian, Native American and African traditions as well as Mormonism, Islam and Judaism that wove through American life in this era.”

Exhibit curator Peter Manseau said in the video that the religious communities jumped at the chance to have their artifacts included in the exhibit.

“This story could not have been told without the involvement of many religious communities from all over the United States,” he said in the video. “And without exception, every community we approached wanted their story told. They wanted to show that their church, their religious identity was part of American religious history from the very beginning.”