News Release

Family History Library Opens Discovery Experiences on Temple Square

There’s a new place on historic Temple Square where guests can explore their family history. The Family History Library opens its doors to the interactive discovery experiences Wednesday, February 8, 2017. The new 10,139 square foot attraction, located on the main floor of the world’s largest genealogy library, uses technology to introduce visitors to their family tree. Admission is free to the public.

 

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“This multi-million-dollar project enables personalized interactive exhibits to connect families with their ancestors,” said Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the grand opening event.

Elder Renlund said the new center is a gift to the community. “This discovery center is the first major change in the interior appearance of the Family History Library in several decades.”

He used a series of words to describe the center, including identity, family, heritage, eternity and love. “Whether one believes in God or not, these things ground us and help us know who we are,” said Elder Renlund.

 

"We are part of a great work to help families gather families,” said Sister Joy Jones, Primary general president. “We must be the connection between the generations before us and the generations after.”

“I promise you that there is a hidden treasure waiting for you as well, a gem that will fortify you in a time of need,” stressed Sister Jones. She suggested that bringing family members to the center would build family unity and “increase their ability to face challenges more successfully.” 

“This gives them an opportunity to begin to see that we can connect them to their ancestors, and not only by name, but by helping them discover who these folks were, the time they lived and what made them think, believe, act the way they did,” said Elder Bradley D. Foster, executive director of the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and board chairman of FamilySearch International.

Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world visit the Family History Library every year. The new facility will accommodate large and diverse groups.

“Whether you're just curious or you're an expert genealogist, these heartfelt discovery experiences are the catalyst to keep you moving,” said Stephen Rockwood, managing director of the Church’s Family History Department and the CEO of FamilySearch International.

When entering the discovery experiences, guests receive a custom iPad to log into their free FamilySearch account and dock it with the various stations throughout the facility for an interactive experience with their FamilySearch.org Family Tree. For the best experiences, guests should create a free online account and build their family tree before arriving at the attraction. A guest account option is also available for visitors.

“Usually research involves looking at microfilms and books and records,” added Tamra Stansfield, manager of the Family History Library. “This takes what's already in your information in Family Tree and makes it interactive and fun, and it tells stories and experiences.”

Stansfield said the library’s other four floors will continue to offer billions of historical records and resources and personal assistance from genealogical specialists.

On the main floor, youth can enjoy the life-sized, touch-screen computer monitors for some of the interactive stations. At a fun green screen, guests can choose from a variety of themed backgrounds to create a lasting photo memory of their visit to the discovery experiences. In addition, there is an enclosed play space for parents with small children.

“I have actually learned that part of my family is from Ireland and United Kingdom, and Sweden also. And one percent basically in Canada, which I really never knew before, and it’s really cool,” said 17-year-old Jonathan Fletcher. The teen and his 11-year-old sister, Katherine, learned they are related to singer Elvis Presley while enjoying the facility. “He’s our 13th cousin, one time removed.”

“It’s pretty impressive,” said patron Brian Edgerton, who recently visited the new attraction. Edgerton has been working on his family history for 25 years. “It makes it more visual for people; it makes it more exciting. It’s not just text and data and documents, but you can actually see maps and photographs.”

“We'll try to make this experience available for people across the world online as much as we can. But for those that are close here, we want to invite them to bring their families,” said Elder Foster.

“As you look around, you're going to see that this truly was designed so families can get together and gather their own families,” explained Rockwood. “I just feel sorry for the parents when they tell their kids it's time to leave.”

The attraction is open Monday through Saturday and is closed on Sunday. Tickets are not needed. Groups with more than 20 people can book a visit online at FamilySearch.org/Discovery.

The FamilySearch Center and Discovery Center located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City will remain open.

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.

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