Manti LDS Temple is back, with its precious murals looking ‘brighter and cleaner’ than ever

“It literally takes your breath away,” says daughter-in-law of famed artist Minerva Teichert.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Ordinance room in the Manti Temple displays the brightened Minerva Teichert murals.

Manti • The treasured Manti Temple, one of the architectural jewels of pioneer-era Utah construction, along with its cherished  murals is back — renovated, retooled and ready to greet guests.

News media representatives took a tour Monday in advance of a public open house, which begins Thursday and runs through April 5. The temple will be rededicated April 21.

“Today we celebrate the open house of a holy place, the House of the Lord here in Manti,” President Camille Johnson, worldwide leader of women’s Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said during a Monday news conference. ” … It is here because of the dedication and consecration of faithful Saints, people who live in Sanpete County and the surrounding area. It is a spiritual meeting place where families can be united together through sacred ordinances. Having temples on Earth is a witness of God’s love for us.”

On Saturday, hundreds of Minerva Teichert descendants traveled from states near and far to gather in tiny Manti for an early tour to the renovated temple and to see the restored murals of their famous relative.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Ordinance room in the renovated Manti Temple displays the restored and brightened Minerva Teichert murals.

They were escorted in groups of 80 through the sacred space to see how the building had been renovated and reconstructed.

“It literally takes your breath away when you walk in the room,” said Dorothy Teichert, Minerva’s daughter-in-law.

The murals were “brighter and cleaner,” said the 90-year-old, who joined the extensive clan for the tours. “The church did a beautiful job of restoring the majestic paintings.”

Even young children, not typically included in temple worship, were “thrilled to be there,” Dorothy said. “They will never forget what a choice experience it was for them.”

Married to Minerva’s son John, Dorothy lived close to the petite painter in Cokeville, Wyo.

“I knew Mother Teichert very well,” she said Sunday. “She was absolutely one of the greatest women who have lived on the Earth — brilliant, humble and so giving and caring.”

Dorothy’s son, Tim Teichert, was the executor of Minerva’s estate, which is suing the church, Deseret Book, Brigham Young University and others, accusing them of illegally reproducing and profiting off of her art.

At the heart of the matter is the question of who owns the copyrights to many of the late painter’s best-known works, including multiple depictions of Jesus Christ, Queen Esther and Mormon pioneers.

Two cases — a copyright case in California and a second one in Wyoming to return the ones removed from the Cokeville chapel where they hung for decades — are moving forward slowly.

The family, meanwhile, is “grateful,” Dorothy said, “that her work is still being recognized and appreciated.”

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) The renovated Manti Temple.

The Manti Temple renovations initially sparked a public outcry after the church revealed plans to tear down the original murals. After nearly two weeks of petitions, protests and phone calls arguing passionately against destroying the art, the church announced that the murals might be preserved and displayed to the public at a later date.

Weeks later, the governing First Presidency changed course again, declaring that the murals would remain in the Manti Temple and that another temple would be built in nearby Ephraim.

“As we have continued to seek the direction of the Lord on this matter,” church President Russell M. Nelson said at the time, “we have been impressed to modify our earlier plans for the Manti Utah Temple so that the pioneer craftsmanship, artwork and character will be preserved, including the painted murals loved by so many. We will leave those murals where they are located now — inside the Manti Utah Temple.”

Of this finished product, general authority Seventy Jonathan S. Schmitt said “every detail is intricate, and it’s beautiful. You’ll find that there is a needlepoint in cushions and chairs that were made by the great and wonderful Saints in this valley. Yet this isn’t a museum of architecture and design…. …You’ll see beyond the artwork beyond the furnishings and see into the hearts of these pioneer Saints. I believe that you will feel of their spirit today.”

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