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Piece of Church History Now Part of Permanent Display in BYU-Idaho Center

Photo of the Purpose of Life Display in the BYU-Idaho Center. The painting shows a persons journey thru life, from birth to death.

REXBURG, Idaho – Brigham Young University-Idaho is pleased to announce the opening of the new Purpose of Life display in the BYU-Idaho Center. This new, permanent exhibit showcases the original Purpose of Life mural that was painted for and displayed at the 1964-1965 New York World Fair, as well as the Japanese Purpose of Life mural that was painted for and displayed at the 1970 Osaka Japan World Expo.

An estimated 12.5 million visitors saw the murals at both the New York World Fair and the Osaka Japan World Expo. Kyoung DaBell, curator at the BYU-Idaho Jacob Spori Art Gallery, said that the fair and expo came at a time when the Church was widely regarded as a “Utah church.”

“The displays inside the pavilion really made an impact on how people perceived the Church, and it led to a lot of growth for the Church,” DaBell said. “These events forever changed the perception of the Church worldwide.”

Similar to the setup of the New York pavilion, the Osaka pavilion taught visitors about Jesus Christ, the restoration of the gospel, and Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children. As guests left the Church pavilion, they were brought past the Japanese Purpose of Life mural that now hangs in the BYU-Idaho Center.

DaBell said that the Church learned a lot from the success of the two pavilions. Missionary work changed. Temple visitor centers and the use of media were utilized more to share Church doctrines and beliefs.

“These iconic pieces of art signify a change in modern Church history in a big way, and they are finally gathered in one place here on our campus,” DaBell said. “We hope to have visitors see our displays and artwork and these historic paintings once again, and we hope that it will touch people’s lives and give them an opportunity to think of the purpose of their life seriously and in a meaningful way.”

Many members of the Church will recognize the Purpose of Life mural from the New York World Fair, as it was used by the Church on pamphlets and otherwise for years afterwards, along with the short movie produced for the 1964 Fair, “Man’s Search for Happiness.” Accompanied by historical documents and records, the murals are on display in the BYU-Idaho Center for visitors to learn more about this unique piece of Church history and doctrine.

Additionally, now on display at the BYU-Idaho Center, are many familiar paintings previously exhibited at the Temple Square visitors centers depicting scenes from the Old Testament and New Testament. These paintings, and the Purpose of Life exhibit, can be viewed Monday through Saturday in the BYU-Idaho Center on the main floor from 5 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.