The Church History Museum in Salt Lake City is located on West Temple just across from Temple Square. This is the perfect place to bring your family and let them see the early history of the Church unfold before them.
Beautiful media is used throughout the display of the early history of the Church including an extremely moving theater dedicated to The First Vision (and shown nowhere else in the Church). The use of media is compelling, especially the accounts of the feelings about the Martyrdom.
I love texture and touch. This shingling hatchet may have been used by Joseph Smith Sr. or his sons to split shingles for their home in Manchester, New York (right by the Sacred Grove).
Of course I love Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of the Prophet Joseph. This stool belonged to her. According to many scholars, Lucy was quite short and yet gave birth to very tall sons. I stared at this for a long time.
I loved looking at the various accounts of the First Vision. I rejoice that we have as many accounts as we do. What a blessing for our dispensation.
This wallet belonged to Martin Harris and symbolizes his willingness to help finance the coming forth of The Book of Mormon. He mortgaged his part of the family farm to pay for the printing costs: $3,000 (in that day’s money).
I jokingly asked a docent if these were first edition copies of The Book of Mormon. They are not. But the display depicts about 1,500 copies stacked (I counted them) and gives a sense of the monumental task on the frontier of publishing 5,000 copies of a 590 page book!
The original printing press used by Egbert Bratt Grandin is on display here in the museum. I always love seeing this–and thinking about the significance of the first printing project that came from this press.
When this original press was in Palmyra on the third floor of the Grandin Building, the pressman would pull this handle more than 185,000 times in the process of printing The Book of Mormon.
No, these are not the real plates (I asked), but they are displayed in the original box that was used in Joseph’s day. I’ve seen this box for many years as Patriarch Eldred G. Smith used to go around with his wife and give firesides and would display this very box.
This was originally Alvin Smith’s tool box and you can still see his name carved into the wood. That thrills me every time I see it. Your children will love seeing this. Be prepared to tell them something about Joseph’s oldest brother, Alvin.
There are a number of screens that “come alive” as various actors depicting characters from the early days of the Church tell actual accounts of various events. I especially loved hearing from Katharine Smith Salisbury, Joseph’s younger sister.
The display is accentuated with beautiful art pieces like this one depicting the restoration of the Melchizedek Priesthood. This is a new art work done by Gary Ernest Smith, completed in 2015.
This hide-bound traveling case was owned by David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses of The Book of Mormon. I love being this close to relics and objects from the early days of the Church.
Bishop Newel K. Whitney apparently stored the Kirtland plats, or city plans, in this tin. The Whitney family preserved them until Mary Ann Whitney donated it to the Church in 1865.
One part of the museum has a room that depicts the Kirtland Temple. There really is a wonderful Spirit in this room.
In the Kirtland Temple room there are a number of paintings depicting the events of March 27 and April 3, 1836. This is a great place to give your own testimony to your children about the veracity of these events.
Significant priesthood keys were restored to the earth on April 3, 1836 by Moses, Elias and Elijah.
Apostle David W. Patten carried this percussion rifle, which was made of curly maple wood with silver inlays, during the Battle of Crooked River. He was mortally wounded in that battle.
Apostle David W. Patten was wearing this watch when he died.
These are two of the iron bars from a window in the Liberty Jail in Missouri. Joseph and Hyrum Smith and four of their friends (Sidney Rigdon, Caleb Baldwin, Alexander McRae and Lyman Wight) were incarcerated in the jail during the winter of 1838 and 1839.
A facsimile of the Liberty Jail has been built to show visitors proximate size and tell some of the story of the Prophet’s experience in that jail. Lessons learned from Liberty reverberate through the ages.
There is much to see in the Nauvoo period here in the museum. The displays are bright and informative and many.
Thirty Nauvoo Temple sunstones were carved in Joseph’s day and were placed at the top of pilasters about a year after Joseph was killed.
The ivory knobs on these canes contain locks of Joseph Smith’s hair. The wood of the canes themselves was made from the wood of the coffin that carried Joseph from the Carthage Jail to Nauvoo.
Hyrum Smith was wearing this vest when he was fatally shot in the Carthage Jail. He was struck in the left side of the nose by a ball that blasted through the door. He died nearly instantly.
As you leave the display on the early history of the Church you pass this panorama of Nauvoo that takes your breath away (if you’ve been paying attention). And this taste we’ve given you is only one part of the museum. What a worthy tribute this is to those early days which are “never to be forgotten.”