(Dick Eastman’s Newsletter · February 11, 2015) I recently had a chance to visit a new offering from the FamilySearch department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first FamilySearch Discovery Center is being demonstrated in Salt Lake City this week and will become available for general use next week. The plan is to refine the new product for a few months, prove the concept, get the bugs out, and then to replicate the concept in other locations around the United States. After translation of the software and all the historical information, Family Discovery Centers will also be introduced at a number of locations around the world.
The new center is designed to allow visitors, especially children, to experience the history and social influences that influenced the lives of their ancestors. It uses the latest technology to give patrons a personally immersive experience into their family’s history.
The Family Discovery Center uses the latest high-tech gadgets (I’d love to own one of those 80-inch monitors!) along with information from the visitor’s own family tree and a lot of historical facts to show what life may have been like for earlier generations of the family. In fact, the new Family Discovery Center has been described as “a Star Trek–meets-genealogy type of experience.” There are also fun, hands-on activities for children of all ages that encourage family discoveries.
The experience works best if a visting family uploads their family tree information to FamilySearch.org before visiting the center. Upon arrival, each visitor is handed an iPad for use while in the center. By connecting the iPad to each stop along the way in the Center, each visitor sees his or her genealogy information displayed in large fan charts and then merged into maps as well as historical and lifestyle information of the time in which those ancestors lived. Each visitor also has an opportunity to take part in audio and video interviews where they can add more family stories as well.
The Discovery Center is located in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. Walk-ins are welcome, but it is recommended that individuals, families, and groups reserve a time at FamilySearch.org/discoverycenter.
You can read more in the FamilySearch Blog at Family Discovery Center/.