The popular Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake City has begun construction on its new Family History Discovery Center. When complete, the main floor attraction will create family history experiences for patrons of all ages. The project is on a fast track to be completed in February 2017. Admission will be free to the public.
"We have been excited for quite some time to start construction on the new discovery center," said Tamra Stansfield, manager of the Family History Library. "Our guests, particularly those who are completely new to family history, will be able to enjoy fun, personal discoveries through interactive technological experiences with their family's history."
Stansfield said the new center will make the library another unique and exciting destination for locals, families, and youth groups, as well as for tourists of all ages visiting Utah or Temple Square from around the world.
The Family History Library is the flagship facility in a network of over 4,900 family history centers worldwide managed by FamilySearch International, a nonprofit subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The fun, engaging activities designed for the discovery center are part of an organizational effort to introduce more people to the many fun facets of personal and family discovery.
FamilySearch is learning that if individuals and families have fun, personalized, quick successes and experiences with their family’s history, they will continue to be more involved at different levels throughout their lives. It also deepens appreciation for family connections across multiple generations.
The new discovery center will create a fun environment for families to discuss their family history together in inviting, unexpected ways. Youth particularly will enjoy the life-size touch-screen computer monitors for some of the interactive stations. In addition, there will be an enclosed space for parents with smaller children that will allow them to explore their family history while also being able to observe their children play.
A fun green-screen feature will let guests choose from a variety of themed backgrounds to create a lasting photo memory of their visit to the discovery center.
The new transformations are designed to offer unique interactive and immersive discovery experiences for visitors of all ages while still offering the vast collections and expertise the library is known for among family history enthusiasts and researchers.
When the new discovery center opens, "We expect to find the next generation of dedicated family historians at play in our library," said Stansfield.
Many of the interactive features in the new discovery center will use a patron's family history in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree to create custom learning experiences at a variety of stations. Stansfield suggests individuals and families take the time now during construction to create a free account at FamilySearch.org from home and begin building their family tree, adding favorite family stories and photos together. A developed family tree will enhance their experience when the discovery center opens in 2017.
The Family History Library's staff and other typical services and historic record collections will continue to be accessible during the construction of the discovery center.
The prototype discovery center currently located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City will be closed to the public once the new center is opened in 2017 but will continue to operate as a FamilySearch development lab, where future experiences can be created and tested. A smaller discovery center was opened earlier this year in Seattle, Washington.
If you would like to follow the new center's construction progress, a time-lapse camera link is available online here.