SALT LAKE CITY — Families with children, and even curious adults, who want to learn more about temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can now visit a new interactive exhibit opening at the Church History Museum.

The exhibit, “Temples Dot the Earth: Building the House of the Lord,” designed to educate and engage children, opens Thursday, Feb. 13, and will likely remain on display for the next four years, according to a Church History Museum news release.

“The timing of the opening of this exhibit is indeed fortuitous,” said Ray Halls, museum educator and planning team member. “We didn’t realize when we began planning some three years ago, that the Salt Lake Temple would be closed for major renovation in 2020. How wonderful it is that this exhibition is open to all during a time when the temple itself is resting and not accessible.” 

Ligia Stewart, 10, left, Jerome (no last name given) and Ligia’s mother, also named Ligia, get a sneak peek of “Temples Dot the Earth,” a new exhibit at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Church History Museum in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. | Ivy Ceballo, Deseret News

The interactive children’s exhibit features hands-on activities, colorful graphics, artwork and historical artifacts designed to educate and answer questions about the temple. Adults will also find the exhibit interesting, said Alan Johnson, the museum’s director.

“The purpose of the Church History Museum is to provide our patrons with opportunities to connect to the growing history of the church,” Johnson said. “Children’s exhibits offer unique and engaging ways to do so. We hope everyone interested in learning more about temples will come and see this new exhibit.”

This is not the first time the museum has built an exhibit with children in mind. Going back to the mid-1980s when it opened, the museum has showcased exhibits centered on the Book of Mormon and the life of Jesus Christ, among others, according to the news release.

Maryanne Andrus, team leader for the exhibition planning team, said one goal was to help children and youth understand the purpose for building and attending the temple.

“We hope they gain a sense of love and awe for these special places of worship,” Andrus said. “The exhibition offers many activities and hands-on experiences, as well as beautiful imagery from actual temples, to help young members, older adults, and community neighbors gain appreciation for these unique, holy sanctuaries.”

Patrons entering the exhibit will be greeted by a large painting by artist Matthew Judd depicting the boy Jesus leaving the temple in Jerusalem, which is intended to convey that Christ is at the core of Latter-day Saint temple worship. Other parts of the exhibit focus on seeking personal revelation in the temple, the history of temple construction and the meaning of temples to faithful members.

A large statue of an ox once part of the Frankfurt Germany Temple is among the historical artifacts in the exhibit. Another activity uses toy-sized boats, buses and buildings to tell the story of Brazilian Saints from Manaus traveling more than 3,000 miles by bus and boat to attend the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple.

The Church History Museum enlisted a small army of people to create the unique exhibit, said Andrew Schmidt, project manager.

“Many talented people worked on the exhibit — designers, illustrators, printers, carpenters, and software developers, just to name a few. We had to make sure that team members knew what everyone else was working on so that the exhibit would come together as a cohesive whole,” Schmidt said in a news release. “We have all been committed to creating an exhibit that delighted children and taught them about the temple.”

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