The renovation and upgrades to the Salt Lake Temple and Temple Square is 11/2 years into a four-year project. The next major part of the project will be the demolition of the North Visitors’ Center.

According to information released by the church Thursday, the area where the visitors’ center is now will be replaced “with open gardens and space for contemplation by 2023.”

This is in line with the announcement two years ago from Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who said that the project will “enhance, refresh and beautify the temple and its surrounding grounds.”

“This area will become a peaceful, quiet space on Temple Square,” said Andy Kirby, director of historic temple renovations for the church. “The plans for this area will also provide a more direct and clear view of the Salt Lake Temple from the northwest area of Temple Square, enhancing the prominence of the temple.”

Restrooms will be added to support events in the Tabernacle and Assembly Hall.

Most recognized by the 11-foot replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen’s “Christus,” the North Visitors’ Center was built in 1963.

The Christus replica will be carefully removed from the facility this summer for preservation. It will be reinstalled on Temple Square at the end of the renovation process, according to a church statement.

“The North Visitors’ Center has already begun the process of decommissioning,” Kirby said. “This means that all art, exhibits and materials will be removed from the building in preparation for the work. After that process, crews will begin evaluation for abatement of any hazardous materials.”

At the start of the Temple Square renovation project in January 2020, the main arrival center and primary venue for guests shifted to the Conference Center. There, patrons can see a smaller replica of the “Christus,” the cutaway model of the Salt Lake Temple and premier views of Temple Square and the Salt Lake Temple renovation.

Visitors also will find immersive and interactive experiences to help them understand the history and significance of the Salt Lake Temple. These include an orientation film, a media presentation about the importance of social and religious gatherings, historical artifacts and photos, and sacred art galleries, according to the church.

Guests are invited to take tours (either self-guided or with missionaries) in the Conference Center. Visit TempleSquare.org for more information.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter @gpugmire

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