LDS Museum of Church History and Art

Shortly after Brigham Young had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, he encouraged the Saints to bring “all kinds of mathematical and philosophical instruments, together with all rare specimens of natural curiosities and works of art, . . . from which, the rising generation can receive instruction; and . . . we will soon have the best, the most useful and attractive museum.”



Over the years, several LDS museums have been located in various places around the city. In 1980 President Spencer W. Kimball announced the location and the plans to build a new 63,500-square-foot museum. This cultural treasure was opened to the public in 1984 and includes depictions of Church history and art from its origins to the present day.

INTERESTING FACTS

Cultural treasures found in the Museum of Church History and art include:

  • A rare gouache and ink portrait of the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo–painted by Maudsley Sutcliffe before Joseph’s death in 1844.
  • An original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon that belongs to Martin Harris
  • The original press used to print the first edition of the Book of Mormon
  • The death masks of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum
  • Mormon gold coins from 1849
  • Numerous paintings and photographs of early Salt Lake City and pioneers who settled here
  • An original handcart pulled across the plains
  • Memorabilia from each President of the Church
  • An interactive model of Salt Lake City as it appeared in the year 1870

The museum includes exhibits by Church artists, past and present, from around the world.


John and Clarissa Smith Homesite

The George A. and Bathsheba Smith family pose for the camera. Daughters of Utah Pioneers

The Museum of Church History and Art sits on the former homesite of John Smith (1781– 1854),younger brother of Joseph Smith Sr. and his wife Clarissa Lyman Smith (1790–1854). Their firstborn son was the future Apostle George A. Smith, who also established a home on this block.

The descendants of John and Clarissa include three generations who served in the Quorum of the Twelve: George A. Smith, their grandson John H. Smith, and their great-grandson George Albert Smith, who was born in a home near the south corner where the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel is located. George Albert became the eighth President of the Church, from 1945 to 1951.

The home of Elias Smith, an early Salt Lake County judge and a cousin of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was also located on this corner.

Additional Media

This original handcart is in the possession of the Church Museum of History and Art. Handcarts allowed for a cheaper way to cross the plains without the expense of having to purchase larger wagons and the animals to pull them. Amy Meeker and Brooke Burdge

An 1830 Book of Mormon, original edition, on display in the Museum of Church History and Art © by Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

The museum displays the original press on which Egbert B. Grandin printed the first edition of the Book of Mormon in Palmyra, New York. David M. Whitchurch

Death masks taken of Joseph and Hyrum Smith before their burial. Robert L. Hall

The museum contains artifacts from the Salt Lake Temple. This door hardware is typical of the ornate work done by the early Saints to show their regard for a temple of God. David M. Whitchurch

Symbolism has always been important in learning. This wooden facsimile of a sunstone reminds Latter-day Saints of the celestial kingdom and the kind of life our Heavenly Father lives. David M. Whitchurch