Church News and Events

Travel Guide to Visiting Church Headquarters

Contributed By By Jason Swensen, Church News staff writer

  • 5 June 2014

The Mormon Battalion Monument is located on the southeast side of the Utah State Capitol.  Photo by Jason Swensen.

For folks living in the United States, summer is here, and it’s time once again to reach for the sunglasses, enjoy a cold lemonade, and, for many Latter-day Saint families, visit Salt Lake–area Church attractions.

Any excursion to Church headquarters includes, of course, a visit to Temple Square. The stately temple, the historic Tabernacle, the visitors’ centers, the Conference Center, and the Church History Museum remain must-sees. But individuals and families alike can enrich their time in the greater Salt Lake area by adding several other Mormon-related attractions to their itinerary. Here are a few suggestions for some short trips outside of Temple Square. All are free of charge and can be of interest to both Utah residents and their guests.

Daughters of Utah Pioneers Museum

The DUP’s Pioneer Memorial Museum is located at 300 N. Main Street in Salt Lake City and houses “the largest collection of artifacts” pertaining to Utah’s pioneers—including displays of memorabilia from the Mormon pioneers and other 19th-century settlers of the Salt Lake Valley. Items found in the vast museum include paintings by pioneer artists, guns, quilts, clothing, a Conestoga wagon, medical and dental tools, and the original carved eagle from Eagle Gate. The Pioneer Memorial Museum is open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Mormon Battalion Monument

Patrons of the DUP Museum can take a short walk past the neighboring Utah State Capitol and visit this oft-forgotten monument on the southeast capitol grounds. In 1927, sculptor Gilbert Griswold crafted a 100-foot granite and bronze monument to pay tribute to the storied pioneers who enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War at the direction of President Brigham Young. The monument pays tribute to not only battalion members but also the many other men and women—including the Native Americans—who played essential roles in settling the Salt Lake Valley.

The Mormon Battalion Monument Plaza

Dedicated in 2010 by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, the plaza is a solemn site located on the south end of This Is the Place Heritage Park near the mouth of Emigration Canyon. The plaza features several heroic-sized sculptures of pioneer men and women impacted by the creation of the Mormon Battalion. The men who answered President Young’s call to arms joined in one of the longest infantry marches in American history. The site includes the stories of families who experienced the Mormon Battalion firsthand. These words of Sgt. William Hyde, spoken in 1846, reveal the faith of the Battalion members: “Most of the Battalion left families. … When we were to meet with them again, God only knew. Nevertheless, we did not feel to murmur.” The plaza is located just a short walk from the iconic This Is the Place Monument, which was unveiled in 1947 to mark the centennial anniversary of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. The towering monument features the pioneer prophet Brigham Young along with other key figures in the settlement of the Valley.

The BYU Museum of Art is renowned for its diverse exhibitions that serve the campus and other Latter-day Saint communities. Photo by Jason Swensen.

A menagerie of African animals welcomes visitors to the newly remodeled Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum at BYU. Photo by Jason Swensen.

A heroic-sized sculpture at the Mormon Battalion Monument Plaza captures the suffering endured by members of the storied Mormon Battalion. Photo by Jason Swensen.

Salt Lake City Cemetery

A visit to this historic cemetery allows members to honor and reflect on the memories of dozens of prominent Latter-day Saint leaders from several generations. The grave sites of 11 Church presidents—John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Howard W. Hunter, and Gordon B. Hinckley—can be found by using maps available at the cemetery office. Several other key figures from Mormon history, such as Willard Richards, Porter Rockwell, and composer William Clayton, are also buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery. The cemetery is open from 8:00 a.m. to dusk Monday through Friday; it’s closed on weekends and holidays.

Brigham Young University Museums

Located some 45 minutes away from Salt Lake City is a collection of varied museums on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo. The BYU Museum of Art, for example, hosts several diverse exhibitions that serve students, faculty members, and the greater Utah County community. The museum is anchored by “Shaping America,” a long-running exhibition of selected works from the museum’s vast collection of American art. A new exhibit entitled “Cut! Costume and the Cinema” will open in July and will feature dozens of costumes from several popular period films.

Other museums on the BYU campus include the Museum of Peoples and Cultures and the kid-friendly (and dinosaur-friendly) Museum of Paleontology. Following a lengthy renovation period, the popular Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum will open June 7. The expanded museum will include a permanent exhibition featuring the wildlife artwork of President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.