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A threat to the original Minerva Teichert murals inside the Manti Utah Temple lurks literally within the walls of the sacred building.

Teichert is revered by some experts as maybe the most important artist to tackle core subjects dear to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 1947, she painted enormous murals on the canvas that workers had adhered to the tall plaster walls in the temple’s world room. The murals cover nearly 4,000 square feet and wrap around doors and under windows.

Church officials announced earlier this year that the walls and the murals adhered to them would be removed permanently during a renovation scheduled to begin this fall. They said they would consult with international experts and try to separate the canvas or portions of it from the plaster and preserve pieces of the mural for restoration, preservation and public display elsewhere.

But earlier this month, President Russell M. Nelson announced that the murals would stay in place on the temple walls.

The problem is those walls still carry a threat to the murals.

“(The murals) change all the time because of the moisture that comes into the building,” said Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy serving as executive director of the church’s Temple Department.

“That’s really the biggest challenge,” he added. “They’ve been touched up. The fact is, the oldest mural there is, as I understand it, is only about 30% to 40% of the original because it’s been touched up and fixed so many times. That moisture is what’s really harming them. We’ll do what we can during the renovation to try and stop the moisture from coming in, but that’s about all we can do. These things don’t last forever.”

Latter-day Saint leaders converse in the Manti Tabernacle after the announcement of the Ephraim Utah Temple on May 1, 2021.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, left, talks to Elder Kevin R. Duncan, a General Authority Seventy, and Bishop W. Christopher Waddell, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, at the Manti Tabernacle in Manti on Saturday, May 1, 2021. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Teichert was 59 and a grandmother when she spent a month in the temple painting the murals depicting God’s hand in the sweep of human history from the tower of Babel to what Latter-day Saints believe is the establishment of Zion in the American West, according to a BYU Studies article.

Teichert’s artworks featured in the temple are “valued not only for their beauty, but also as a treasured remembrance of the faith, talent and dedication of the artist,” church leaders said earlier this year.

Teichert had “a very singular eye and hand to her works,” Mark Magleby, the BYU Museum of Art’s development chair and emeritus director once told the Deseret News.

“There is an incredible economy of paint in her works,” he added. “They are almost painterly sketches of her subjects, as if she doesn’t want to overwork it, as some were in the age just prior to her. Her figures and the way she paints them don’t allow you to forget it’s just paint. It’s a minimalist approach that allows you to access the process she’s going through.”

My recent stories

Two missionaries serving in Texas died in a two-vehicle accident (May 19)

Special global broadcast will focus on sharing faith more naturally (May 18)

Latter-day Saint aid flowing to India as COVID-19 kills 4,000 a day (May 15)

‘Where heaven and earth intersect’: Tooele Valley Latter-day Saints break ground for Deseret Peak Utah Temple (May 15)

What I’m reading

Jennifer Graham, a Deseret News colleague, wrote about frustrations some conservatives are expressing about Disney.

My colleague and outstanding faith reporter Kelsey Dallas wrote about the biggest religion case before the U.S. Supreme Court this year.

Since I read this story — “Should we still care about no-hitters?” — another pitcher has thrown a no-hitter. (See all 27 outs here.) Editor’s note: Minutes after this newsletter was sent, the Yankees’ Corey Kluber threw a no-hitter against the Texas Rangers. For those who don’t know, a no-hitter is when a baseball pitcher goes an entire game without allowing the other team to reach base on a batted ball. We are a quarter of the way through the Major League Baseball season, and there have been five no-hitters, the most at this point in the year since 1917. The record for a season is eight, set in 1884. See more fun facts here.

This one is behind a paywall at The Athletic, but it is a fun look at how every baseball bat is different, and a significant percentage of them are made from poor wood.

I volunteered to coach a girls softball team of third- and fourth-graders this spring. We are having a blast learning the game and building confidence. I’m watching too many YouTube videos looking for what drills other coaches use. In this one, the Louisiana State University softball team’s batting coach uses tire chocks and tennis balls cut in half to teach players how to feel where their feet should be when hitting. Yes, I found a neighbor willing to cut some tennis balls in half for my team.

Behind the scenes

My colleague Spenser Heaps took some tremendous images of the Manti Utah Temple on May 1. They deserve to be highlighted. You can find more in a gallery attached to this story.

The Manti Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints opened in 1888. Here it is pictured May 1, 2021.
The Manti Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints is pictured in Manti on Saturday, May 1, 2021. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
The Manti Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints sits on a hill above Manti in this May 2021 photo.
The Manti Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints is pictured in Manti on Saturday, May 1, 2021. | Spenser Heaps, Deseret News