BYU column: Education in Zion gallery reveals link between spiritual and secular education

January 20, 2019

The permanent exhibit in the Education in Zion Gallery at Brigham Young University is newly refreshed with the latest exhibition focusing on the link between spiritual and secular education. Located in the Joseph F. Smith Building, “Education for Eternity,” gives visitors a better understanding of what makes studying at BYU unique.

This new gallery focuses specifically on the symbolism of the circle and the square. In classical civilizations, the square symbolized the earth, and the circle symbolized eternity. When inscribed together, these two shapes — known as a “squared circle” — represent the need for both worldly knowledge and spiritual knowledge. Commonly seen in architecture throughout the state of Utah — including many temples — this concept ties in beautifully to the gallery’s focus on how students at BYU can receive education from both secular and spiritual perspectives, setting the school apart from most others in the world.

As visitors come to explore the refreshed gallery space, they can learn more about how the symbolism of the circle and the square relate to the development of educational programs in the church and the history of BYU. As early church members relied on a cycle of study, experience, and revelation, and as the founders of BYU developed the four aims, they tried to create an environment where everything they learned would benefit their eternal development.

“The Education in Zion gallery is a place where students can come to learn why they are at BYU,” said Natalie Olsen, one of the student gallery educators. “The whole theme of ‘Education for Eternity’ can help them to see how they can give more meaning and purpose to their experiences here.”

According to curator Heather Seferovich, the “refresh” follows seven years of research and thoughtful interactions with patrons.

“Since this gallery was created to serve the needs of the campus community, and those needs are always evolving, the purpose of the refresh was to reflect more of what BYU students and faculty have wanted to see.”

To celebrate its reopening, the gallery will also be holding an event on Jan. 30, 2019, from 3 to 6:30 p.m., where the public is welcome to come tour the refreshed gallery space. Visitors can meet Col. Gail “Hal” Halvorsen beginning at 3 p.m. At 4 p.m., composer Janice Kapp Perry will lead visitors in singing a medley of her beloved Primary songs followed by a riveting dance performance by BYU performing arts groups. A similar program will take place at 5 and 6 p.m.

Following the program visitors are encouraged to vote for their favorite new displays and results will be shared on social media the following day. Crumbl Cookies will be served.

Admission is always free.