BYU Museum Exhibit: Caring for the Earth Is Everyone’s Responsibility

Contributed By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 4 March 2015

Located near the east entrance of BYU’s Monte L. Bean Museum, the Our Sacred Stewardship exhibition uses various media to teach the principle of caring for God’s creations.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

Article Highlights

  • The exhibit, titled Our Sacred Stewardship, shows that we must take care of God’s creations.
  • Several faculty members representing disciplines from natural sciences to religion are featured in a video explaining the relation between the Lord and the earth.

“God seems to take immense pleasure in biodiversity; He is constantly pronouncing everything good as He is creating it.” —George Handley, humanities professor at BYU 


A visit to Brigham Young University’s Monte L. Bean Museum is akin to a child entering a huge candy store—there’s so much to see and so much to try. The daunting question: Where to begin?

Start by visiting the Our Sacred Stewardship exhibition. It’s found just a few steps from the main entrance, and for good reason. Our Sacred Stewardship is the anchoring feature in a museum committed to the belief that people of faith and people of science can be one and the same.

The museum is a remarkable repository of the natural world. It is filled with tens of thousands of preserved animals, from tiny beetles to a majestic elephant. Since its reopening last year, it has again become a popular destination for school and Church groups, along with the many BYU students who pass through the building each day on their way from the dorms to the classrooms.

Our Sacred Stewardship is a reminder that the natural world is more than a place of diverse bio-wonder—it is a sacred place formed by a loving Creator.

“Part of the mission of the museum is to celebrate the role of Jesus Christ as Creator,” said museum director Larry St. Clair.

David Malan’s pastoral painting depicting Christ the Creator was commissioned to hang in the permanent exhibition Our Sacred Stewardship at BYU’s Monte L. Bean Museum. Photo by Jason Swensen.

A majestic African elephant welcomes visitors to the main floor of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at Brigham Young University. On the walls above the pachyderm is the message “Protect Your Planet.” Photo by Jason Swensen.

The multi-columned, east side entrance of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at BYU resembles an Egyptian ruins site. Photo by Jason Swensen.

The small exhibition includes a large oil painting of a seated Christ looking out over His earthly creation. Painted by artist David Malan, the pastoral scene was commissioned by the museum specifically for the permanent exhibit. A couple of latter-day revelations posted on the museum wall serve as doctrinal bookends:

“For it is expedient that I, the Lord, should make every man accountable, as a steward over earthly blessings, which I have made and prepared for my creatures” (D&C 104:13).

“And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion” (D&C 59:20).

Our Sacred Stewardship features a video with clips of interviews from several members of BYU’s faculty, representing a wide range of academic disciplines, from the natural sciences to religion. Despite their varied backgrounds, each professor speaks of the sacred connection between the Lord and the earth.

“God seems to take immense pleasure in biodiversity,” said humanities professor George Handley in the video. “He is constantly pronouncing everything good as He is creating it.”

Geological studies professor Jani Radebaugh noted that the earth is our home “and we have to take care of it.”

When the Lord commanded Adam and Eve to subdue the earth, ancient scripture professor Terry Ball said, “He’s telling them to make this world productive and to be a caretaker for the earth.”