Church unveils ‘Foundations of Faith’ exhibit in SLC

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A Church employee enters the Church History Library on Sept. 4, the opening day of the “Foundations of Faith” exhibit. (Ali Noorda)

SALT LAKE CITY — Twenty-six historical documents, including first-edition books and original manuscripts, are now on display for the public at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.

The artifacts, viewable Monday–Saturday, are divided into four collections: Modern Revelation, Finding Strength, Building the Kingdom of God and The Book of Mormon Fills the Earth. Notable pieces include the Book of Mormon original manuscript, Book of Abraham facsimile printing plates, a letter from Liberty Jail and architectural renderings from the Nauvoo Temple.

“Looking at artifacts helps us to remember, appreciate and understand the past,” said David Seely, a religion professor at BYU. “When we look at artifacts, such as the first edition of the Book of Mormon, we are reminded of the great sacrifices made by Joseph Smith and many other early Saints.”

Kimberley Strand, a BYU graduate currently interning at the Church History Library, visited the exhibit on its opening day. “Any time you see any of these … it really strengthens your testimony,” she said.

The library underwent security upgrades to protect these extremely rare and valuable items, which were previously kept in vaults in the building.

“They are as safe here as they were in the vaults,” said Brandon Metcalf, a Church archivist who oversees access to some of the items now on display.

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CES Missionaries Sheila Smith and Joan Crowther examine the new “Foundations of Faith” exhibit in Salt Lake City. (Ali Noorda)

Metcalf added that the idea for the exhibit was taken from the “Charters of Freedom” display at the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C. He said planners hoped the sentiment felt there would be reflected in the display of the Church’s foundational documents.

Although the Church History Library exhibit has seen few visitors since its opening on Sept. 4, Metcalf hopes for an increase in coming months, especially as October general Conference approaches. The Church History Museum, just across the street from the Church History Library, will close its doors for renovation in October. Metcalf hopes the new exhibit will draw visitors that would typically make stops there.

“Everyone always asks if we have the gold plates,” Metcalf said with a laugh. “Well, we don’t have the gold plates, but the original manuscript of the Book of Mormon is as close as we can get.”

The “Foundations of Faith” exhibit at the Church History Library is located at 15 E. North Temple in downtown Salt Lake City.