“Museum Exhibit Spotlights Presidents of Church,” Ensign, Feb. 1985, 79
Joseph Smith’s Nauvoo Legion sword … John Taylor’s Hebrew Bible … David O. McKay’s well-known white suit—they’re all part of an exhibit spotlighting Presidents of the Church in the Museum of Church History and Art.
The new permanent exhibit, three years in preparation, contains portraits, artifacts, memorabilia, books, manuscripts, and photographs reflecting the lives and accomplishments of each of the twelve Presidents of the Church.
“Each item in the exhibit is unique to the administration or personal life of that President,” said Florence S. Jacobsen, director of the Church’s Arts and Sites Division, which oversees the museum. “They present an inspirational glimpse into the family life and the particular emphasis of each President’s administration.”
One of the purposes of the exhibit is to help visitors appreciate the diversity of the men who led the Church, said Steven L. Olsen, an exhibit curator for the museum. “The different backgrounds and experiences of each President prepared them to deal with the challenges of each new period in Church history.”
Included in the exhibit is a photo essay and a formal portrait of each President. The photographs depict various stages of each man’s life, from his childhood through his administration. Now in preparation to accompany the exhibit is an interactive video station which shows segments from old films and videotapes. The voices of Church leaders as early as President Woodruff are included, as well as silent films from the early part of this century and segments of televised speeches of later Presidents.
Objects such as Brigham Young’s inkwell and quill pen and Joseph Fielding Smith’s typewriter depict changes in style and technology since the beginning of the Church. Other artifacts—President McKay’s riding gloves and saddle, and Brigham Young’s woodworking planes—reflect something of the interests and hobbies of the Presidents.
One of the oldest objects in the display is an original, leather-bound, 1830 first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon. The printing press used to print the book will be shown in a permanent main gallery exhibit now in preparation.
The museum, immediately west of Temple Square in Salt Lake City, is open 9:00 A.M. to 9:00 P.M. weekdays and 10:00 A.M. to 7:00 P.M. weekends and holidays (except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day). Admission is free.