Exhibition Highlights

Behind the Scenes of Pizzaro

The goal of the Saints before, during and after Nauvoo was to find a sense of Zion.  Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young saw broadening the cultural base of Nauvoo as a path to Zion.

The play Pizarro was directed by Thomas A. Lyne (Lynn), a skilled and popular actor from Philadelphia.Lyne came to Nauvoo after becoming curious about Joseph Smith. Lyne, who had encountered Mormonism previously, had outgrown religious beliefs and was skeptical about the Church when he arrived in Nauvoo.

Lyne’s brother-in-law George J. Adams was also an actor and he had recently converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lyne was so impressed by Adams’s stories about Joseph Smith, that he moved to Nauvoo to see for himself. After a warm welcome from the Prophet, Lyne quickly became involved in the community.

Joseph Smith believed theater could be a powerful medium of instruction, so he asked Lyne to form a drama company. In what may have been the beginning of theater for the Church, Pizzaro opened on April 24, 1844, with Adams playing the role of Pizarro. Other members of the cast included Erastus Snow, “Mr. Kimball,” “Master Woolley,” “Mr. A. Lyman,” and “Mrs. Young.” Helen, a daughter of Heber C. Kimball, also played one of the virgins in the cast. Brigham Young was cast as a high priest. Although he only appeared twice leading marches, processions and hymns, he was said to have had one of the most important roles. Tickets sold for 50 cents, which went toward paying Joseph Smith’s legal fees in Missouri.

In an interview with John S. Lindsay, Lyne humorously reflected, “I’ve always regretted having cast Brigham Young for that part of the high priest. . . . He’s been playing the character with great success ever since.”[1]

“Brother Lynn,” over the next few years, also produced The Orphan of Geneve, Douglas, The Idiot’s Witness, Damon and Pythias, The Iron Chest, and William Tell.

[1] Stanley B. Kimball, “Also Starring Brigham Young.” Ensign (Oct 1975). For more information on the topic of plays in Nauvoo, see Nola Diane Smith, “Reading across the Lines: Mormon Theatrical Formations in Nineteenth Century Nauvoo, Illinois” (PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 2001).


Receiving liberating gifts of knowledge

From its founding days forward, the Church has worked to liberate God’s children from the thrall of ignorance.  Church leaders have sponsored the translation, printing and distribution of the scriptures and the teachings of the Latter-day prophets. With these resources, all who are willing and diligent, even those without formal education, can become free from ignorance and prepare to teach others.[1]

Brigham Young stated, “Remember, too, the great principle of improvement. Learn! Learn! Learn! Continue to learn, to study by observation and from good books! Listen to the instruction of your brethren who hold the holy priesthood, and they will lead you in the ways of happiness and of life eternal.”[2]

Many educators scoffed at Brigham Young’s plan to have his academy teach revealed doctrine alongside academic subjects.  The Church educational pioneers, however, did not reject science or scholarship, because they had faith in the ultimate harmony of all truth, whether discovered by science or revealed through prophets. As part of our eternal growth and progression we must each work out the synthesis of faith, virtue, and intellect within our own character.

[1] Gallery Text

[2] Brigham Young, July 24, 1877, Journal of Discourses (1854-86; lithographic reprint, Salt City: Deseret Book, 1974), 19:64


Buildings in Nauvoo

Nauvoo was a culturally exciting time for the Church. The town was built fairly quickly after the Saints arrived and it soon thrived. Several of the buildings constructed there were of great importance to the Church.

The Red Brick Store had many different roles. It was not only a general store, but it was also the unofficial headquarters of the Church because Joseph Smith owned it and often conducted Church business there. Joseph Smith even had an office on the second floor.[1]  On March 17, 1842, the Relief Society was organized formally by the Prophet in this upper room on the second floor. In addition, the store housed the Young Gentlemen’s and the Young Ladies’ Relief Societies as well as the University of the City of Nauvoo. The Red Brick Store was the center of many social events, lyceums and concerts. It was also where the a few very early endowments and sealings took place before the temple was finished.[2]

The Mansion House was another important building in Nauvoo. It was the home of Joseph and Emma Smith. They moved there in August 1843, and after the 1844 construction of a 22-room-wing, the house was turned into a hotel. The Smiths continued to live there and were the hosts to many fellow Saints and important dignitaries.[3]

Perhaps the most important building in Nauvoo was the temple. The drawings from which the temple was built were based on a vision received by Joseph Smith.[4] In 1841 the Saints began construction of the temple.  Although it was not finished until after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith,  this temple was the first one where ordinances—including eternal marriage and baptisms for the dead—were performed. It was finally dedicated in 1846 just before the Saints moved west, and nearly 6,000 people received their endowments in it.[5]

These buildings, along with many others, became important spaces where the Saints could mingle, be taught, and receive ordinances. All these activities helped to unify the them and helped them progress in their educational pursuits.

[2] Education in Zion gallery text

[4] Education in Zion gallery text

Joseph Smith: Teaching in the Savior’s Way


The Education in Zion Gallery sits at the heart of Brigham Young University’s campus to serve as a reminder of the eternal nature of education. The Prophet Joseph Smith epitomized the role of an eternally minded student and teacher. As such, the first part of the Education in Zion Gallery is dedicated to him.

In the Sacred Grove, Joseph sought guidance that would change his life and impact all future generations. Through his heartfelt inquiry, he ushered in the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He began a divine education wherein “he was taught for years by visions and revelations, and by holy angels sent from God out of heaven to teach and instruct him and prepare him to lay the foundation of this Church.”[1]

Joseph’s experiences as a student of God prepared him to serve as a teacher in Zion to new converts who were eager to learn of the restored gospel. Joseph “proclaimed the gospel with testimony, clarity, and boldness, and in an unpretentious manner that quickly became a pattern for the Church.”[2]

The video clip below is featured in the gallery and provides a glimpse into Joseph’s life as a student and a teacher in Zion.

Members of the LDS Church continue to cherish the words of Joseph Smith because the words provide a beautiful understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, Joseph Smith’s desire to learn as a young boy allowed him the opportunity to serve as God’s mouthpiece during the restoration of the Church in a way that remains a pattern for education in Zion into the twenty-first century.


[1] Wilford Woodruff, October 8, 1873, Journal of Discourses (1854–86; lithographic reprint, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 16:265.

[2] Education in Zion gallery text, “Joseph the Educator: Teaching in the Savior’s Way,” http://educationinzion.byu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/Education-in-Zion-Text.pdf.

Creating a Zion-like people

As the Saints settled in the Western valley, Brigham Young established many opportunities in the frontier to create a well-rounded, educated people. He believed “’Mormonism embraces all truth[,] revealed and unrevealed, whether religious, political, scientific, or philosophical.”[1] In order to fulfill this belief, Brigham Young sent many individuals to New England and abroad for vocational and academic trainings. Through formal educations, men and women alike were better prepared to be the leaders of the Church, educators and artisans. All of their skills were essential in the building of God’s kingdom.

Vocational training was perhaps the most important training during that time. Several women were sent to the east to study in prestigious schools. They joined professional health care associations and brought back many valuable skills when they returned West.[2] Artisans such as Truman Angell were sent to study European architecture before he designed the Salt Lake Temple.[3] Painters who contributed to the murals inside the temple were also especially apprenticed in Europe.

The Saints also organized lyceums (similar to today’s devotionals), lectures, forums and classes to discuss philosophical topics. For example, President Lorenzo Snow established the Polysophical Society. His sister Eliza described the society as, “magnificent moral, intellectual, and spiritual picnic.”[4] Another formal education system is the Deseret Theological Institute, organized in 1855. This lecture program was dedicated to promote doctrinal understandings and invite all who are “desirous of receiving and imparting light, wisdom, and principles” to join. [5]

[1] Brigham Young, January 12, 1862, Journal of Discourses  (1854-86; lithographic reprint, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1973), 9:149

[2] Eliza R. Snow, “An Address,” Woman’s Exponent 2, no. 8 (September 15, 1873): 63; “Home Affairs,” Woman’s Exponent 9, no. 9 (October 1, 1880): 69; advertisements, Woman’s Exponent no. 17 (February 1, 1881): 136; Hannah T. King, “Dr. Ellis R. Shipp,” Woman’s Exponent 12, no. (July 15, 1883): 31; “Commencement Exercises,” Woman’s Exponent 13, no. 23 (May 1, 1885):181-82

[3] Truman O. Angell, “His Journal,” in Our Pioneer Heritage, ed. Kate B. Carter (Salt Lake City: Daughter of Utah Pioneers, 1967), 10:195-213

[4] Eliza R. Snow, Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow (Salt Lake City: Deseret 1884), 252.

[5] Preamble and Constitution of the Deseret Theological Institute, Millennial Star 17, no. 33 (August 18, 1855): 515