"Icelandic Heritage among the Mormons"
The museum exhibit installation at Vestmannaeyjar Folk Museum in Iceland, "Icelandic Heritage among the Mormons," tells the story of early Icelandic Mormons. This exhibit is part of a larger project that will continue for the next four years. Fred Woods from Brigham Young University is working with Kári Bjarnason from the Vestmannaeyjar Folk Museum to collect manuscripts and images in both Utah and Iceland that provide information concerning early Icelandic Mormon history during the years 1851 to 1914.
“People in Iceland are interested in finding out what happened to those who went west with the Church. The exhibit shows this heritage for future generations in Iceland.” Kristjan Geir Mathiesen, Second Counselor Denmark Copenhagen Mission
“The goal of this project is to first, understand why they left and secondly to bridge the gap between those who are living and their ancestors. People want to know more about their own people. They may have different reasons for it, perhaps religion, family ties or just curiosity. Our hope and dream is to bring those 400 people back to life, to tell their stories with their own words, so their descendants can come to know them better. Icelanders have always been interested in their own history. The people who went to Utah are our brothers and sisters. They may be in another faith, but we want to understand and come closer to these people.” Kári Bjarnason, Vestmannaeyjar Folk Museum
“It’s been an incredible opportunity to go into the homes of these people. They get tears in their eyes, and we can see the knitting of their hearts back to their ancestors in Iceland. They are learning about relatives they knew nothing about and it is very rewarding to unite these families back together.” Fred Woods, Brigham Young University
“The important records of our ancestors are disappearing fast, so we must preserve them now. It’s important to know about our heritage, to get to know about our ancestors and their lives. Even though I don’t have personal accounts of my ancestors, I feel close to them. I am proud of my Icelandic heritage.” David Ashby, Past President Icelandic Association of Utah
“Converting to a new religion often means that the proselyte must sacrifice their heritage for the sake of their new faith. This exhibit celebrates the experience of a group of LDS converts who preserved their native identity and did so in a new homeland that was far away from and quite different than the land of their birth. Many converts to Mormonism through the years find that their new religion encourages the preservation of the best of their native traditions.” Steven Olsen, Church History Department
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Unique project tells story of Icelandic Mormons