This morning, FamilySearch unveiled their latest Discovery Center. Elder Bradley D. Foster, chairman of the board of FamilySearch International conducted the event. Elder Dale G. Renlund, an apostle with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, presided.
In introducing his remarks, Elder Renlund quoted Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who began one school year by saying a few words (“Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!”) and then sat down. “So I have a few words that I’d like to say,” Elder Renlund told us. His words were identity, family, heritage, eternity, and love. He said that as we understand these words, our hearts turn to those we love, living or deceased.
Elder Renlund said that this multi-million dollar renovation is a gift to the community and to families. it enables individuals and families to connect with their ancestors.
“The new discovery experiences at the Family History Library is a gathering place for families,” said Elder Foster. “There's an incredible spirit here. Guests and families come for fun, to expand their family tree, and to learn new tools, sources, and skills, and then return home to apply what they learn.”
This discovery center is 10,139 square feet and replaces a smaller, test facility in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. It is located on the ground floor of the Salt Lake FamilySearch Family History Library. It utilizes innovative technology to appeal to guests of all ages and is designed to make genealogy interesting to a wider segment of people. The center has 140 computers and life-sized touch screens offering several ways to make fun discoveries. It has six recording studios for individuals and families to record their family memories. It includes a children’s play area. It has a time machine allowing visitors to see back in time.
If a visitor has previously created a FamilySearch account and added enough of his ancestry in FamilySearch Family Tree to connect to other people, the experience at the discovery center is enhanced. At one station visitors can see what famous people they are related to. Another shows photographs, sources, and other information about ancestors. A FamilySearch account is free. Simply register on FamilySearch.org.
The other four floors of the library will continue doing what the library has always done: provide the world’s largest collection of family history records assembled anywhere in the world.
The discovery center makes the library a more attractive tourist destination. Temple Square, adjacent to the library, is one of the top visitor attractions in the state of Utah, attracting three million visitors each year, according to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir website. The Deseret News reported that in 2009 it was the 16th most visited site in the United States. U.S. News and World Report recommends Temple Square visitors stop by the Family History Library. I hope this new center engages visitors in the rewarding work of family history.
The official opening is Wednesday, 8 February 2017 at 8:00am. Admission is free. Youth groups and families are welcome. The center recommends that groups of over 20 register online at FamilySearch.org/discovery.