SALT LAKE CITY—The spring “Treasures of the Collection” open house at the LDS Church History Library opens March 22 and runs through April 7, 2012. The theme of this year’s event is cultural celebrations with nearly 150 items on display. Visitors will experience seldom seen historic books, photographs, journals, and artifacts relating to the history of cultural events and celebrations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Items from July 24th celebrations, Gold and Green Balls, the Hill Cumorah Pageant, and other Church festivals will be highlighted as well as items from the 1964 New York World's Fair, the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games, and the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games. The history of Church sports--principally baseball and basketball--will also be showcased.
The Treasures of the Collection open house began with the opening of the new Church History Library in 2009. April Williamsen, public programming coordinator for the Church History Department, said the department leadership wanted to showcase some of the items the new building would house. The inaugural event was a success, and the open house has become a semiannual event. “In fact,” Williamsen said, “there has been so much interest in the exhibit that we decided to extend the open house time frame; it used to run for a few days, and this time it will be open more than two weeks.” She said that in the past, many people have not had the opportunity to see the exhibit by the time it closes.
This year’s exhibit theme was chosen by a committee of Church History Library employees including Williamsen. “We always want to showcase something that will be of interest to the public, to people who aren’t members of the Church and members alike,” she said. “This year, as we looked at some of the sports history and dance festival history, we settled on cultural celebrations.” One of Williamsen’s favorite parts of the exhibit is the Hill Cumorah Pageant display. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the pageant. “Many members of the Church have somehow been involved with the pageant,” Williamsen said. “People can appreciate and feel the spirit of the powerful message these items convey; it reaches across boundaries and touches all.” One item of particular interest is the journal of a young woman who participated in the pageant. “The spirit of the event comes out in her journal entry,” Williamsen said. Photographs, a press package, and programs from the pageant are also part of the display.
Another part of the exhibit, the Old Folks Day display, holds particular significance for Williamsen. The holiday was a time to honor those 70-years-old and older with meals, service, and entertainment. “Old Folks Day was a big event in its prime,” she said. “I remember my grandparents participating in the celebration committees when I was a small child.” Items in this display include commemorative badges, photographs, programs, and tickets to the Old Folks Day luncheon.
The 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics display is something many visitors can identify with. Williamsen mentioned, however, that not many people know that the Church has been involved with the Olympics for a long time, citing the Church’s service during the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games. Instructions for the opening ceremonies participants, a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Olympic Association, and Olympic insignia are among many items in this display.
Each display in the exhibit has been crafted to capture a vignette of Church culture. “I hope this open house will help visitors catch the spirit of heritage,” Williamsen said. “I hope they will see how people and events have been honored and celebrated through the years.” She also said the Church History Library does not contain everything regarding Church cultural celebrations. “We’re hoping this display will generate interest in donating items to the collection so we can even better show and tell the story of our heritage.”
The Treasures of the Collection open house hours are Monday-Wednesday & Friday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Thursday 9:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m., and Saturday 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. The exhibit will extend its hours to 9:00 p.m. Saturday, March 24 and Friday, March 30. Saturday, March 31 hours are 12:00-2:00 p.m. and 4:00-9:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call 801-240-2745 or visit history.lds.org/program/treasures-of-the-collection.