February, 12, 2013

An Open Mind and a Willing Heart

Education in Zion has graciously welcomed an increase in guests since the beginning of Winter Semester, largely due to gallery-related class assignments. Although first-time visitors to the gallery are generally unsure of what lies beyond the spiral staircase, they most often find themselves pleasantly surprised. With the amazing influx of visitors, I have enjoyed witnessing guests’ reactions to the gallery.

Last week during my Wednesday night shift, a woman entered the gallery about an hour before closing time. She opted to walk around on a self-guided tour, but  she stopped by the information desk to share her experience when she finished.

The woman’s instructor had encouraged the class to read their patriarchal blessings prior to visiting the gallery so they might feel prompted about what paths to follow after leaving BYU. It was easy to see this woman had truly been touched by her experience. She told of how she believed the spirit of the gallery to be much like the spirit found in the temple.  Her experience added an entirely new dimension to my understanding of the gallery and the role it can play in the lives of those who visit.

Some individuals say they do not understand why they have been assigned to visit the gallery, while others believe that after one visit that there is nothing more to learn. However, after reading hundreds of pages of information and working at the gallery for three months, I know I am just beginning to recognize all this gallery has to offer. In fact, the file with all the label text and footnotes equals 150 pages, so  there is a lot information in the permanent exhibition.

The Education is Zion Gallery is filled with beautiful artwork and touching accounts of inspired individuals and the spirit of their sacrifices and testimonies can be felt strongly in the gallery. I firmly believe visiting Education in Zion will provide inspiration each and every time an individual accepts the opportunity to attend with an open mind and willing heart.

Melinda Clark, gallery educator