SALT LAKE CITY -- A new interactive children's exhibit at the Church History Museum of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has received a huge response, say museum officials.
"We've got a lot of people coming in and enjoying it," said Ray Halls, manager of education at the museum. "A lot of people have heard about it and are coming to see it."
Halls said he even heard of one excited church member who wrote about the new exhibit on a personal blog, which is how members of one family said they had discovered it.
"It's just a fun exhibit," Halls said, noting that it's designed specifically for families.
Titled "A Book of Mormon Fiesta: A Latin American Celebration," the new exhibit celebrates an extensive Latin heritage within the church and portrays stories of faithful Latin American members, states information released by the church.
"We've tried to create a space where children and families can come together and, through active play, learn about the Book of Mormon," Halls said.
But besides being fun, officials hope the exhibit will begin a process of transforming the museum.
"The Book of Mormon exhibit represents a higher-caliber exhibit than we've ever done before," said D. Kurt Graham, Church History Museum director. "It is the first step in reimagining the museum."
The new exhibit is divided into three interactive sections where both children and adults can learn about and be inspired by the stories of Latin American members of the LDS Church.
The first section, "Learn Truths," shows ancient prophets from the Book of Mormon.
Each activity station represents a lesson that can be found in the Book of Mormon, according to the church's website.
Halls said a boat in the display represents Lehi and Nephi coming across the ocean. He said a number of games in this area bring to life Book of Mormon stories.
The second section, "Share Truths," is a replica of a Latin American home with missionary visitors who have come for a dinner appointment.
"Anybody who has experience with the church will know about dinner appointments," Halls said.
In and around the kitchen of the home, children may interact with a pretend chicken coop and a Latin American garden.
The third section, "Live Truths," re-creates a Latin American plaza with specific areas depicting inspiring stories of modern-day Latin American members.
"All the stories are real stories from people from Latin America," Halls said. "They are stories of real people trying to live their lives the best they can in the real world."
One such story is of a man who made it a tradition to go from house to house on his bicycle, tending people's gardens for them, Halls said.
Another story is of a young girl who was in a dance troope and was brave enough to tell her dance instructor that she could not wear the costume she was asked to wear because it was immodest by her church standards, Halls said.
He told of the girl's teacher agreeing to make adjustments to the costume so the girl would be more comfortable wearing it.
The story introduces a dance station in the exhibit, which Halls said is one of the most popular areas.
"Kids dress up in authentic costumes and try to replicate dance moves," he said. "The kids just absolutely love that."
The Church History Museum is at 45 N. West Temple St. in Salt Lake City. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For more information, visit the museum's website at churchhistorymuseum.org.