On the first floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building there is a Family Search Discovery Center. This center is open to the public and there are two different sections to visit.
The first section is open to everyone, and there are many things to do. For children, there are interactive coloring and craft centers that focus on family history. Adults will find the opportunity to do some actual family history, and there are plenty of volunteers on hand to help you get started. If you are unfamiliar with Family Search and would like to try it out, this is the perfect adventure for you. We loved that the children would be well entertained while adults could get some one-on-one help with their family history.
The second section of the Family Search Discovery Center is also open to everyone, but it won’t mean much to you unless you have an LDS account. In this section, you can log in to one of their magnetic iPads and attach it to several interactive kiosks. These help you to understand a bit more about your history. One of them shows you the news in the year you were born including gas prices, major headlines, and other world events. Another shows a google map of where each of your ancestors was born and died. This is especially interesting if much of your heritage is made up of Pioneers. There is even a place to take pictures of what you may look like in traditional clothing from different cultures.
We allowed our boys to use our Family Search accounts because they didn’t have one yet, so this part of the Family Search area is probably better suited for children who are 8 and up and can sign-up for their own accounts. They loved seeing the information about our family, and making pictures, but it would have been better if it had been more personal to them.
There were two other rooms that were both occupied the entire hour we were there, so we didn’t use them. In one you can record your own stories and it will save them on Family Search. In another room, it looked like you could see time item pieces that matched with people in your family tree.
We had a lot of fun at the FamilySearch Discovery Center and it prompted us to open up LDS accounts for our boys. Now they are excited to go back and explore for themselves! The center recommends making a reservation to ensure that their are enough iPads to share!