A Thursday-evening open house marked the opening of an exhibit of rare Jewish artifacts at the Museum of Church History and Art of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The display includes a collection of 52 rare maps, travel literature, rabbinic texts, books, lithographic prints, liturgical rites and postcards that will be on display through June 29.Titled "Towards the Eternal Center: Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple," the exhibition was first shown during the summer of 1996 at the Jewish Library in New York City, a major research center for students of Jewish heritage.

"The theme of the exhibit is expressed in an expressive midrash, or commentary on the scriptures," said museum curator Mark L. Staker, building on the idea of three spiritual centers of the world that have been important to Jews for generations. "It reads, `The Land of Israel is situated in the center of the world, and Jerusalem is in the center of the Land of Israel, and the Holy Temple in the center of Jerusalem.' "

Among the early documents on display are a map of the Holy Land dated 1632, a travel book describing Jerusalem in that same year, and a letter from the Crusader period dated 1236.

The exhibition also includes prayer books from the 1800s and several printed images of the temple in the 1700s.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of LDS the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve and Rabbi Fredrick Frederick L. Wenger of Congregation Kol Ami participated in the ribbon-cutting program for the exhibit Thursday. The LDS Church sent invitations to an exhibit open house to 500 people in the Salt Lake-area Jewish community.

Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays, Sundays and most holidays. Admission is free.