Sunday School teachers, rejoice: Searching Google Images for Book of Mormon visuals is no longer needed!
The first permanent and comprehensive online database of Book of Mormon art is now available and provides searchable access to more than 2,000 pieces of visual art from public and private collections, museums, and the holdings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The new Book of Mormon Art Catalog also includes a wealth of information about each piece and unparalleled research tools for scholars, artists, Church members, and anyone interested in Book of Mormon visual art.
“This archive is a welcomed and timely blending of the scholarly and the inspiring. It’s a resource I’m glad both Saints and scholars now have at their fingertips,” said Spencer Fluhman, Executive Director of BYU’s Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship.
The project began as art historian Jennifer Champoux was researching the history of Latter-day Saint depictions of Lehi’s dream in 1 Nephi 8. She has been directing the project since 2020 in the hopes of supporting research and education, promoting a greater knowledge of artists worldwide, and providing a study and devotional resource.
“One scholar simply can’t find all the art on a particular Book of Mormon scene because there are so many sources to search through, many inaccessible to the public,” Champoux said. “It was clear that a centralization project would be valuable for both scholars and Church members.”
Champoux also said she is particularly excited for the catalog’s opportunity to highlight diversity in Latter-day Saint art and artists. “From New York to Hong Kong and Argentina to Utah, Saints around the world are translating the Book of Mormon into visual media, and it’s inspiring to see the variety of interpretations and approaches in the art,” said Champoux. Similarly, Daniel Becerra, an assistant professor of ancient scripture at BYU, commented, “By honoring the religious imagination of artists from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, [the Book of Mormon Art Catalog] amplifies and makes more accessible a wider range of voices testifying of God and scripture through art.”
While the breadth and depth of art in the database is certainly impressive, the catalog’s search functionality is also something scholars and artists are commending. For example, a historian can search and easily compare how female and male artists have portrayed Nephi; an artist can review scenes of King Benjamin used in official Church media; or a Sunday School teacher could find art depicting the Savior’s visit to America by South American artists.
“The Book of Mormon Art Catalog is a tremendous resource,” said Matthew Bowman, the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. “But it is more than simply that. It also helps both researchers and believers shatter stale, tedious stereotypes in order to imagine the Book of Mormon in fresh and striking ways. The database, in short, reveals anew the complexity and importance of the text as a signal artifact of American religious history.”
Champoux and her team of student research assistants at BYU will continue to add to the catalog. “We see this as a collaborative, open-ended project that will continue to grow over time,” said Champoux. “We encourage people to enjoy browsing the catalog and to send in suggestions for additional artworks or information that could be added.”
To learn more, browse the artwork, and search the new database, visit https://bookofmormonartcatalog.org/