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'Sacred Gifts' attendees write heart-felt letters to painters

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Jan 26th, 2014 @ 10:20pm


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PROVO — "Sacred Gifts,” the exhibition at BYU's Museum of Art, is attracting record numbers of visitors, so curators are sending a message about the best times to see these remarkable paintings.

They are also seeing acts of kindness taking place in the form of thank-you notes.

The exhibition, which features paintings by Heinrich Hofmann, Frans Schwartz and Carl Bloch, has exceeded expectations. More than 130,000 visitors have seen it.

“Because we're tracking ahead of the last Carl Bloch exhibition, we may not be able to accommodate as many people at the end, so, we're encouraging them to come as early as possible and during the day," said Hilarie Ashton, marketing and public relations manager at the Museum of Art.

Evening hours have expanded and free downloads of the audiovisual app are now available.

Four paintings at exhibition are from Fredericksburg Castle in Denmark and will be traded for four others the last week of February. Curators think it might just be a good idea for you to consider seeing the exhibition twice.

The paintings were installed in the King's Oratory in the 1860s and 1870s. They have never left, until now, and, the director said, will never leave again.

As thousands of visitors complete their tour, they write thank-you notes to the congregations of the churches that loaned the paintings.

One patron wrote: “The Riversidse Church, New York City — Thank you for generously sharing your paintings with us. I am glad we share a belief in and love of Christ.”


I felt sometimes that I was in Christ's presence. Some of the paintings were just so real. The light that they give off was just so amazing.

–Dallin Breshears, BYU student


A girl from Arizona wrote: “Dear Denmark, I really like the paintings where the angels go to the shepherds with the sheep … Love, Raquel.”

And one to Germany from an 11-year-old: “My favorite one was when Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and the angel comforted him. That gives me hope that when I feel lonely or sad the Holy Ghost will comfort me. Preston Wilson.”

"Their congregations have been so overwhelmed and so thrilled to receive ‘thank you’ notes from people here in Utah," said Dawn Phasey, the exhibition’s curator.

The artwork brings peace to some, inspiration to others.

Dallin Breshears, a BYU student, loved it.

"I felt sometimes that I was in Christ’s presence,” he said. “Some of the paintings were just so real. The light that they give off was just so amazing."

Raphael Tuten of Lehi said, "They're definitely divinely inspired. There's no question about that. … Just beautiful depictions of the life of the Savior."

His wife, Janet, said they brought back memories of her trip to Jerusalem.

"The pictures depict it so well, just so well. It just makes your heart flutter," she said.

The exhibition will continue at the Museum of Art through May.

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