'Treasures of the Collection' exhibit features LDS Church presidents

Published: Saturday, Sept. 28 2013 12:20 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY —How did President Spencer W. Kimball feel when he first heard he was being called to the Quorum of the Twelve? What were President Lorenzo Snow’s thoughts after he learned about the martyrdom of the prophet Joseph Smith? What item did Lady Bird Johnson present to President David O. McKay when she visited Salt Lake City in the 1960s, and from which of his predecessors did it originate?

Visitors to the Church History Library will be able to find answers to these questions, and learn much more, at “Treasures of the Collection.” The event, held about the same time as each LDS general conference, is free.

The exhibit includes documents, photographs and other items related to the lives and ministries of the 16 presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, from the prophet Joseph Smith to President Thomas S. Monson.

Among the items on display are journals from several church presidents, including President Kimball. His featured entry is from the day he received a phone call from President J. Reuben Clark, a counselor in the First Presidency, who was calling him to the Quorum of the Twelve.

“He’s just so basically overwhelmed, as I’m sure anybody would be to get a call from the First Presidency,” said April Williamsen, public programming coordinator for the Church History Department. “I think that would be quite interesting for a lot of individuals to read his account of that phone call that he received.”

Another item on display is a photograph of the Quorum of the Twelve from about 1967, Williamsen said. Seven of the men in it would one day become president of the church.

“The oldest one is Joseph Fielding Smith, all the way down to Thomas S. Monson, who’s the youngest one in the quorum, so it’s just a unique photograph,” Williamsen said. “You think, ‘Oh, well, yeah, I’m sure whoever’s in the quorum … there’s a couple of them that will eventually become president.' But to think there were seven just blows you away a little bit.”

A facsimile of the printing plates from the Book of Abraham, a photograph of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve in 1866, and President Joseph F. Smith’s ministerial license from his mission to Hawaii are also among the approximately 80 items on display.

“We don’t put out the same things every time," Williamsen said. "I think that’s one of the confusions people have, is, ‘Oh, yeah, I went two years ago, so I don’t need to go again.’ But each time we have a different theme and we pull out different items."

While people can come for as long or as short of a time as they wish, Williamsen recommended visitors set aside at least an hour if they want to look at all of the items and to read the journal and letter pages on display. More than 5,000 people visited the exhibit last fall, she said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There are some things out there that I think people, they’ll just walk around with their jaws dropped,” Williamsen said. “It’ll be fun.”

The open house will run through Oct. 10. Hours are Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The Church History Library is located in downtown Salt Lake City at 15 E. North Temple St., across the street to the east of the Conference Center.

More information is available at 801-240-2804 or history.lds.org/event/fall-treasures-of-the-collection-2013

Email: rbrutsch@deseretnews.com

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