Free activities Museums Pioneers

Church History Museum

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The LDS Church History Museum has reopened after a year-long closure during which it was entirely remodeled. We love the new changes to the museum, especially how hands-on and interactive it was for our children. This is a great place to visit for any family, and for all ages, and it’s all FREE.

 

The museum is very interactive for kids. There are activity guides at the desk and each of boys worked on a different booklet. Our oldest was looking for US Presidents and their connection to LDS history. The 6 year-old was looking for watches and timepieces, and the youngest had a booklet on LDS temples. All of the boys enjoyed these activities and learned a lot by looking a little deeper. The booklets are perfect for ages 5 and up, but we helped our three year old, and he could find the pictures that were shown in the little booklet. You will also want to pick up tickets to watch the First Vision video at the desk when you arrive. The video shows every 15 minutes.

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These activity booklets were perfect for our boys—a lot like Junior Ranger activities.

The first floor shows the different time periods of early church history. This new section  of the museum follows Church history through it’s various stages from Palmyra to Kirtland to Nauvoo to Salt Lake City. You will first learn about Joseph Smith, the First Vision, and translating the Book of Mormon. This is where you will watch the First Vision video, but you must have tickets prior to entering.

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You can crawl into this log and see all the places Joseph Smith hid the golden plates.

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These pictures talk and move and tell the religious background of Joseph Smith’s family.

After this section, you enter Kirtland and learn about the history surrounding this town. From here you will move into Nauvoo and this area culminates with the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. One of our favorite displays was a beautiful picture of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith that depicts the scene in Carthage Jail:

Courtesy of LDS.net

Courtesy of LDS.net

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There are lots of things to see and do in the museum.

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I really liked Hyrum Smith’s sunglasses. Those are pretty nifty!!

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Our boys enjoyed helping move this stone to build the Nauvoo Temple.

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One of the museum workers told the story of this scarf that provided miraculous healing to some children who were sick. The workers were doing lots of fun activities all day when we were there.

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You could open a safe, pull out drawers, flip boxes down to see inside–the hands-on aspect of this museum is awesome!

On the second floor of the museum there is a beautiful art gallery with changing exhibits that we spent time walking through. The current art exhibit is art from an art competition about the stories of Jesus. We had fun looking at the varied art pieces and choosing a favorite.

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This art exhibit changes throughout the year, at least it did in the old museum. Maybe this one will be more permanent.

The second floor also houses the Presidents of the Church hall, which traces the lives of the prophets of the LDS Church from Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson. This exhibit was part of the Church History Museum before the remodel. There are sections for each man, and while we were there, the museum workers were doing several hands-on activities for kids in this part of the museum. There were games, stories, and finding activities.  In fact, we also had one of the museum volunteers tell us a story when we were in the Nauvoo history section. We loved how the workers seemed more actively involved instead of standing to the side.

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Each president of the church has his own section with artifacts, pictures, and information about his service as the leader of the LDS church.

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I kind of want this prayer bell that Brigham Young had to call my children for prayers, dinner, and much more. It’s quite large.

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Next to each President there is an iPad that plays the prophet bearing his testimony and for those prophets who lived before cinematography, there are videos depicting their life or giving their history. Our 3 year-old insisted on watching ALL of them.

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Another fun activity was touching the replica of the golden plates and then trying to lift them. Those plates are heavy!

The museum also features a play area for little ones. In this section, they can watch a Bible videos on a ship, arrange Tanagrams into different pictures and patterns, build temples with wooden blocks, and other activities. There is a separate section for 4 and under where they can climb and ride on stuffed camels! Our boys loved playing here and it was a nice stop after walking so quietly through the museum.

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Here is the play area of the museum where children can create art and explore to learn more about Jesus Christ.

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The boat is fun to sit on and you can watch different videos about the Savior’s life.

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Here is the area that is divided off for children 4 and under to play in.

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This area was VERY busy.

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You can draw pictures to hang on the fish like being fishers of men!

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There are different pictures for different stories about Jesus like a candle, camel, dove, etc. that you can try to create. But we also created our own beautiful images!

One thing that many people will notice is that a much more open history is presented than has been publicized in the past. For example, there is a video based on all eight accounts of the First Vision, and a kiosk display detailing the various accounts that Joseph Smith shared with different audiences. There is also a display which traces the break up of the Church after the martyrdom, including the Rigdonites, Strangites, Whitmerites, and those who went to Salt Lake City.

 

The entire museum is filled with hands-on activities for the children. There are things to crawl into, drawers to pull out, rubbings to make, and lots of screens to touch and manipulate. Our boys were very enthralled the entire time and didn’t even notice that we were there for 2 and 1/2 hours. Even our 3 year-old loved all the exhibits and didn’t complain about a snack–which is huge!

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There are activities like this throughout the museum. We pulled out this drawer and found rubbings to make.

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There are also screens to help children learn more about Church History.

We can’t wait to go back to the Church History Museum. The museum is located across the street to the west of Temple Square at 45 N West Temple. The Museum is free and is open 9 am-9 pm M-F, and 10-5 on Saturday. For other places to visit on Temple Square with kids, click here!

 

Family Tips for the Church History Museum:

  • Get tickets for the First Vision movie FIRST THING! This way you don’t have to return to the desk to get tickets. You can pick whichever time you want, soonest or way later, but then you can plan your museum stroll around the movie time.
  • Pick up the Discover Pamphlets at the desk while you’re getting your movie tickets. There are three different versions sitting in stacks on the welcome desk, so we grabbed one of each. We also borrowed pencils from the nice museum desk workers.
  • Let your kids enjoy all the interactive displays. This made our visit last longer than we planned, but it also made the children’s visit more enjoyable and memorable. Plan on at least 2 hours in this museum!
  • Check out other places on Temple Square. You are already in downtown SLC, so you might as well visit a few other FREE places.