1 of 2
Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News
Christopher Cook uses plastic pieces to create a stained-glass window at the "I Am a Child of God" exhibit at the Museum of Church History and Art. The exhibit is based on the LDS hymn and, through using the verses of the song, takes children through their earthly progression.

The beloved hymn, "I Am a Child of God," provides step-by-step inspiration for a special children's exhibit showing at the Museum of Church History and Art.

And at each step, there are activities to help youngsters apply pertinent concepts.

The exhibit is particularly germane this year because "I Am a Child of God" was chosen as the year-round theme for the worldwide Primary organization. The song, written by Naomi W. Randall with music by Mildred T. Pettit, also achieved its 50th anniversary last year.

The specially-for-children exhibit "draws families," said Ray Halls, the museum exhibit director. He participated in the design with Craig Rohde and Marjorie Conder, a curator who since has retired. The "feel" of many of the illustrations would be familiar to children who read the church's children's magazine, the Friend, because they are the work of Friend illustrator Mark Robison.

Words from the song are at child-view level in both English and Spanish. A colorful border of children's photos (all donated by people affiliated with the church offices) with "I Am a Child of God" in a great variety of languages, wraps the elements of the exhibit together and highlights the importance of every human as offspring of Heavenly Father. (Rohde proudly points to a smiling photo of one of his grandchildren.)

The core message of the hymn is introduced in a 45-second excerpt from the film "Man's Search for Happiness." Then children are swept into a fun-filled tour that expounds on each line of the hymn ...

And he has sent me here: A hospital and newborn nursery features art of a mother and father entering, and happy family members peering into the nursery and admiring the babies. (You can tell they are peering in because the word "Nursery" is backward.) In the nursery, baby dolls are waiting to be diapered, rocking chairs invite little visitors to treat the "newborns" to a lulling session, birth certificates must be filled out, and scales wait to register official weights. And then, with the transition from the heavenly home to an earthly one complete, it is time to move on to ...

Has given me an earthy home, with parents kind and dear: A proud mother and father leave the nursery area, each carrying a petite twin and heading into the lifetime experience, where Lead me, guide me, walk beside me is the plea of children who hope to be reared in homes where gospel principles are lived and taught. A minisection of the Conference Center backs a small gathering area where children can touch a screen to call up a special child-centered talk by the late President Gordon B. Hinckley, sharing with them his own childhood love for sleeping under the stars and encouraging them to accept principles such as tithing and temple work.

A special feature is a cross section of the walnut tree President Hinckley nurtured and which became a very special podium in the Conference Center that he so loved. Smudges of fingerprints on the "touching area" attest that many children are anxious to have this tactile connection to the beloved prophet.

A large rug designed with Bible themes can be converted to any number of games and stories. A rainbow arch is a reminder of the "I Love to Look at Rainbows" song many LDS children choose to symbolize their baptisms. A picture of children being baptized is evidence of progression in the quest to "Help me find the way, Teach me all that I must do ... "

The final section of the exhibit focuses on the Savior, with a Nativity scene in which children may don costumes and join in the celebration of the birth of the Savior. A section from the Nauvoo Temple emphasizes the desire for eternal life in a celestial world. Children can alternate plastic pieces to design a stained-glass window, participate in making quilts for a humanitarian project or create an art design of the well-known CTR — Choose the Right — logo.

In all, the exhibit is a fun journey to show the process that enables children of God To live with him some day.

If you go ...

The Museum of Church History and Art, 45 N. West Temple, is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is closed only for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Free.

E-mail: tvanleer@desnews.com