Sunday, March 27, 2011

LDS Temple Murals - Pt 2 - The Manti and Salt Lake Temple Murals

In my last post I talked about how the first temple murals developed.  With the Logan Temple built with progressive endowment rooms and murals, plans for the Salt Lake Temple and Manti Temple were updated to include progressive endowment rooms and murals.

The Manti Temple originally had murals painted by the pioneers.  These were painted directly on the plastered walls and the murals in the garden and world rooms began to decay.  Eventually the murals decayed so much that they could not be repaired and they had to be completely replaced.  This is when the church commissioned Robert L. Sheppard and Minerva Teichert to paint the garden and world room murals, respectively.  The rooms were completed in 1948.  Please follow this link to read a great article on the world room mural which I think is the single best mural or piece of artwork in a temple.  Here are pictures of the current Manti Temple Murals:

Manti Temple Baptistery

The Manti Temple baptistery contains murals showing the baptism of Joseph Smith.  I don't recall if other events are depicted in the murals, but this was the first baptistery to contain murals.

Manti Temple Creation Room
The creation room has volcanoes and dinosaurs included in beautiful murals.  During the session, they turn lights on symbolically to match events in creation.

Manti Temple Garden Room
The garden room murals give a nice depiction of the Garden of Eden.  Folding privacy screens with painted trees are also used so that actors presenting the endowment can have a place to hide behind.  Potted plants (I think artificial) are also in the room.

Manti Temple World Room
The world room contains an extremely involved mural.  It depicts events from the Tower of Babel to the future founding of Zion in America.  Abraham, Joseph, Moses, crusaders, Columbus, poor, rich, and royalty are among those pictured.  The article I linked above goes into a lot more detail.  There is a lesson about worldliness in the room.  After attending the Manti Temple with my mom she said to me, "That's the first world room that made me feel like I didn't want to be in the world anymore and  made me want to go into the terrestrial room while in the world room."  Indeed, the painting shows the miserable, sick, poor, alone, needy people ignored by the rich and royals who aren't even happy themselves.  At the front of the room is a Native American chief welcoming the people to the Americas.  The chief is in a Christlike pose and guards the doors exiting the room.  Behind him is a depiction of Zion in America as a conglomerate of various Latter-day Saint settlements in Utah. The message is then that we don't have to live in a telestial world in this world.  If we come to Christ and live his gospel, then Zion can be established and this world can be a terrestrial world.  As we covenant in this room and continue in the endowment, we leave this flawed world and enter the terrestrial room and a more glorious way of living.  Anyways, you should read the article.  It is very interesting.

While the Salt Lake Temple was originally going to simply have a lower and upper assembly hall, its plans were altered to have progressive endowment rooms and murals.  To ensure quality murals for this and other temples, the church sent missionaries to Paris to study art so that they could come back to Utah and paint the Salt Lake Temple murals.  This was known as the Paris Arts Mission.  I could talk a bunch more about it, but the link has more than enough information, so please read it.  As a side note, the church has started calling art missionaries to paint temple murals as this church news article about the Draper and Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temples discusses.

Salt Lake Temple Creation Room w/o Mural
The Salt Lake Temple creation room was originally not painted with a mural (see photos in The House of the Lord; A Study of Holy Sanctuaries, Ancient and Modern by James E. Talmage).  The current mural shows creation through the creation of plants.  I'm not sure why the artist didn't include animals in the mural, but he didn't.  To see the room with the mural, go to my post here.  I'm not sure when the mural  was added.  Apparently sometime after Talmage wrote his book.

Originally the garden room was to be outside the temple in an attached greenhouse.  Revised plans brought the garden room back inside the temple proper; however, a small greenhouse was attached to the wall behind the altar and three doorways entered into this greenhouse giving this room natural light and real plants.  The greenhouse has since been removed.  I talk about it a little in this post.

The Salt Lake Temple world room murals show nature competing.  Plants fight for space and are unhealthy, dried out, broken, etc.  Animals fight.  A river erodes a hillside.  The room is beautiful, but at the same time it shows that this world is fallen.  I like the murals in this room.  They convey through depictions of nature some of the problems with this fallen world.

So there is a little information on the Manti and Salt Lake Temple murals.  Please comment and let us know what you think.  I forgot to mention it in my last post, but if you have pictures of the Logan Temple murals, please comment and tell me where I can get them.  I have only seen a very small glimpse of them in a book on the Logan Temple that shows them ripping the murals out.


SMR said...

Good article as always. If you look at the history of the salt lake temple when it was fist built the creation room had no murals and the room was primarily white as you moved through the temple the rooms became darker and richer with more colors till you enter the Celestial room then you were hit with deep jewel tone colors and intricate patterns. Much the opposite of what it is today where you start in these beautiful painted rooms and end in large colorless white rooms. I think the early saints had something going. I for one am going to be very disappointed if i get to heaven and everything is white and gold.

firefighter1 said...

Do you know of, or have any info on the scrolls located at the bottom of the east wall in the Manti temple telestial room? Some of these are still barely legible and some have been painted over. This is the wall with the shadow figures and at the bottom of each group of figures is a scroll or ribbon containing a word. I have been told that these words are supposed to be the "problems" or "sins" that will be the end of the world. I have been able to make out Pride and a few other words. Any info? I can't find any other info.