SALT LAKE CITY -- A scaled model of the Salt Lake City Temple opened Friday, offering an open house-type experience of arguably the most recognizable building of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The 88-inch tall, near-identical replica of the temple is located in the South Visitor's Center on Temple Square and is open to the public. It sits in front of a giant window facing the actual building it replicates.
The Salt Lake City Temple was the sixth temple built by the LDS Church. Today there are 132 operating temples throughout the world.
"This replica will show the millions of visitors who come to Temple Square the beauty and majesty of this sacred and historic building," said Elder Richard G. Hinckley, executive director of the Missionary Department. "Like all temples, once the building is dedicated it is used for sacred Church purposes and not open to the general public, but this exhibit will provide the public with a glimpse of the interior and a feeling of the Spirit that is present there."
While public open houses for new temples regularly draw tens and even hundreds of thousands of people, the LDS Church anticipates millions will likely see this 1:32 scaled model of the Salt Lake Temple over its lifetime.
"This temple has been closed to the public for 117 years and so with that increase in curiosity and the desire we have to dispel some of the misperceptions that are apparent among people," said Hinckley. "We got permission to build this and we think it will go a long way in doing just that.
The south and east walls of the replica have been cut away to show depictions of many of the temple's rooms, including the large assembly hall and rooms where the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles meet. The baptistery and other ordinance rooms are also depicted.
"We thought this was the best way to give a true and exact representation of the interior of the temple so it is precisely as it is in the temple," said Elder William R. Walker, executive director of the LDS Church temple department. "None of the rooms have been configured for the purposes of the display. It is just as it is illustrated."
The replica goes into great detail to show furniture, paintings and even light fixtures.
"It's how it looks today," Walker said. "The temple has been altered with colors and furnishings and is quite different than it was when it was originally finished, so this is a representation of how the temple looks today."
Peter McCann Architectural Models of Toronto was commissioned to create the replica last August. Sixteen modelers worked on the duplication process over five months.
Making the detail even more interesting is the fact the artists never actually went inside the temple. The replica was created using digital photography.
The new display also features new kiosks that show photos and video of the temple's interior rooms. A narrator gives an explanation of the purpose of the rooms and a diagram shows where they are located on the model. Church representatives say the presentation is very similar to what a person would experience during a public open house of a temple.
"This new display will give people another reason to visit Temple Square for the first time or for the hundredth time," said Elder Hinckley. "Because of its history and spiritual significance, this temple is beloved by millions and recognized as an icon of Mormonism throughout the world."