World’s Fair Murals Find Home in BYU–Idaho – Church News and Events
For modern generations accustomed to Google and social media, it can be hard to fathom the allure, but in 1964 the World’s Fair allowed people to experience new cultures and ideas and be dazzled by emerging technologies. .
And for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it was an opportunity to correct misconceptions or introduce visitors to its teachings and beliefs.
Today, two works of art depicting this unique period in Church history can be viewed at the BYU–Idaho Center on the Rexburg, Idaho campus. A new permanent exhibit features the original “Purpose of Life” mural that was painted for the 1964 New York World’s Fair, as well as the Japanese “Purpose of Life” mural from the Osaka World’s Fair in Japan in 1970.
“These iconic works of art signify a significant shift in modern church history, and they are finally brought together in one place here on our campus,” said Kyoung DaBell, curator at BYU-Idaho Jacob Spori Art. Gallery, in a press release on the new display. “We hope that visitors will see our exhibits, artworks and these historic paintings again, and we hope that it will touch people’s lives and give them the opportunity to think seriously and meaningfully about the purpose of their lives. .”
The Church’s pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair—and later at the Osaka World’s Fair in Japan in 1970—was considered a success. It welcomed around 12.5 million visitors. Baptisms have increased.
“The exhibits inside the pavilion really had an impact on how people perceived the Church, and that led to great growth for the Church,” DaBell explained. “These events forever changed the perception of the Church around the world.”
It also revolutionized the way the Church shared the Gospel. The art, dioramas and multimedia displayed in many visitor centers today are part of the enduring legacy of fairs.
The theme for the pavilions was “Man’s Search for Happiness”, the title of the film produced expressly for the 1964 fair, with narration by Elder Richard L. Evans, who was the announcer for the Tabernacle Choir in Temple Square for many years.
In the New York Pavilion and the Osaka Pavilion, visitors learned about Jesus Christ, the Restoration of the gospel, and Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children. As they left the church pavilion, guests were able to study the “Purpose of Life” murals that now hang at the BYU–Idaho Center.
Some visitors might recognize the murals. This is because the Church has used them in pamphlets and other media over the years.
The BYU-Idaho exhibit includes other historical records and documents that invite viewers to reflect on the purpose of life and the plan of salvation.
The murals are on the ground floor of the BYU–Idaho Center, open Monday through Saturday from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.