Last week, demolition began on Temple Square’s North Visitors’ Center—which is perhaps most notable for being the home of the Church’s replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s Christus statue. The marble sculpture is well known to Latter-day Saints, and its likeness was made the Church’s official symbol last year.
According to Church News, the Christus has been removed and placed in storage for conservation. Eventually it will be reinstalled somewhere on Temple Square at the end of the renovation, although the exact location has not been disclosed.
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During the Temple Square renovation, a smaller Christus replica is on display at the Conference Center.
Temple Square guests will remember the North Visitors’ Center for the domed rotunda that housed the Christus, flanked by large windows and walls painted with striking murals of clouds, stars, and planets. The windows allowed the dramatically lit statue to be seen by people outside on Temple Square.
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The main floor of the visitors’ center featured a 14-square foot replica of ancient Jerusalem and large murals depicting scenes from the New Testament. The lower floor featured life-size statues of figures from the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The area where the North Visitors’ Center stood will ultimately be replaced with open gardens, according to Newsroom.
In the early 1960s, original plans called for the Christus statue to be displayed in an outdoor viewing area on Temple Square. However, concerns were raised about the statue being exposed to Utah’s harsh mountain climate.
According to a new plan, in 1963 the statue was placed in the rotunda of the newly built Bureau of Information building, later named the North Visitors’ Center. The enormity of the six-ton Christus meant that builders had to lower the statue into place and then finish constructing the building around it.
The statue became so beloved by members of the Church that smaller replicas were eventually installed in other Church visitors’ centers, including:
- Hamilton, New Zealand
- Hill Cumorah, New York
- Idaho Falls, Idaho
- Independence, Missouri
- Laie, Hawaii
- London, England
- Los Angeles, California
- Mesa, Arizona
- Mexico City
- Nauvoo, Illinois
- Oakland, California
- Palmyra, New York
- Paris, France
- Portland, Oregon
- Provo City Center, Utah
- Rome, Italy
- São Paulo, Brazil
- St. George, Utah
- Washington, DC
In addition, the Church owns a traveling replica and donated one to the Icelandic Immigration Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland.
For more interesting facts about the Christus, including in what position the statue’s arms were originally placed, read “5 things you never knew about the Christus statue.”
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