Thanks to my wonderful friend, Tiffany, I heard about the new display on the upper level of the Church History Museum (just West of Temple Square). Looking for something fun and cheap (can't get cheaper than FREE) to do with the kids over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Dixie (my fabulous mother-in-law) came with us to explore and have good a time!
The display covers nearly half of the 2nd floor and consists of several different stations, all of which reinforce what it means to be a CHILD OF GOD. This picture is of us sitting next to the stump of the infamous walnut tree grown in President Hinckley's yard, that was later used to create the wonderful pulpit of the Conference Center. I don't know why I thought this was so cool, but I couldn't get enough of it. Maybe because I love that story so much! I kept saying, "Kids! C'mere and touch the tree!"
You walk through the different stages of life. The first "station" you come to helps remind the children that we all start out as babies, innocent and ready to learn. It is set up like a hospital nursery. The kids could pretend to be doctors and nurses, taking care of the baby dolls that are waiting for love. You can weigh the dolls, pretend to bathe them or listen to their heartbeats, or as you can see here, feed them as you rock them to sleep. Wyatt named his baby "Metta" (yeah, about the name...don't ask me...I don't have an answer for ya).
When he weighed his baby--whom he claimed was a "boy baby" and yet kept referring to as a "her"--he told me Metta weighed "zero pounds"... Yeah, right. That baby doll is half as tall as you are--that's at least a 15-pounder! * Halle's favorite part of this station was writing out the birth certificate!
Next, we moved onto an area about the Savior. It was full of beautiful pictures that had a vintage feel. They were new to me, by an artist who's name I can't remember (dang it!). If I can jog my memory, I'll post his name and the paintings on a future blog. They were wonderful, though. They'd be great in a kid's room.
A stable had been builtand several costumes were hanging, invited the children to don them and act out the story of the Savior's birth. I love how the museum helped the children understand that Jesus once was a baby, a little child, like them. Halle wanted to be Mary, Wyatt of course asked to be Joseph, and they both wanted Grandma to be the angel. Since the angel dress was obviously made for a smaller angel, it was decided Grandma could wear the dress on her head and still pull of the "angelic" look they were all going for.
I wish I had taken pictures of every station, but here are our favorites:
(As long as I kept throwing Cheerios his way, Carson was a happy camper!)
A really cute activity was a maze kept under plexiglass. Within the maze were metal cars, which you could "steer" by using a strong magnet on top of the glass. The goal was to get the cars from the church to the temple. Wyatt loved this and did it over and over! I thought it was quite clever!
I was thrilled to see they had "Lehi's Dream" for the kids to act out and explore. We've just reached this part of the Book of Mormon in our family scripture study and it was fun to help explain it visually to the kids a little. They were still confused, I think, but it's a start, right? Hopefully this will be just one of many opportunities we have to help our kids understand the symbolism behind Lehi's great vision. I loved that the "fruit" of the tree were different languages of "CTR".
Both Halle & Wyatt say their favorite part was the "baby nursery" (can you tell from Wyatt's expression in the next picture?). My favorite part (which they also enjoyed) was the touch-screen television. The children could "touch" a topic on the screen (Tithing, Being a Child of God, Temples, etc) and President Hinckley would appear on the screen addressing that subject, directing his talk TO the children. He was so cute. At one point he said, "I am an old man, I was born in 1910...that was an awfully long time ago." As usual, I felt the spirit so strongly seeing President Hinckley that tears came to my eyes. Halle said, "I know why you're crying, Mommy. You're crying because you love him so much." "That's right," I said. "I love President Hinckley so much that seeing him and hearing him makes me happy enough to cry. And every time I see him, the Holy Ghost tells my heart that he really is the prophet of God. And I know he talks to Heavenly Father and Jesus about us." I was so grateful for that teaching moment, for the quiet opportunity my kids and I had to share our feelings about the man chosen to lead the world back to Christ.
After the "kids stuff", Dixie and I had a couple things we wanted to see as well. It was fun seeing Gladys Knight's grammy (she gave it to President Hinckley, who donated it for display in the museum). That was pretty cool, I thought.
And any time I am at the museum, which isn't often, I love to see the deathmasks of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Perhaps that sounds a little weird, but seeing something that touched them, that at one point was part of them, makes me feel more connected. It helps me to better envision what they looked like and how they must have felt. It helps me remember that these were real people, who gave so much--everything, really--to bring me where I am today. If you've never seen the masks, I'd make a trip to the museum for that alone. You can see a photograph of the death masks here: http://josephsmith.net/josephsmith/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ad10001cfb340010VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD&vgnextfmt=tab3
Below are some pieces of artwork that moved me:
(Halle like the 2nd one, too...in fact, when I let them pick something out from the Museum Store, she chose a postcard with this painting on it.)
Obviously, I could go on and on (and on and on...) about how impressed I was with the museum. If you are looking for something that is free and more than worthwhile to do with your kids on a Saturday afternoon, check it out sometime!
Here's the Museum's website if you are curious: