Twelve Treasures at the DUP Museum

As part of our Pioneer Days celebrations we took our four Cincinnati-based grandchildren to the DUP Museum (Daughters of Utah Pioneers) on Saturday (the first time in more than a decade that I have been to the museum.


As anyone knows who has visited this museum, it is more warehouse than traditional museum. The sheer quantity of artifacts on display is overwhelming – dozens of framed art mainfloor5 CarriageHouse2pieces made from human hair, countless quilts, thousands of photographs, a staggering number of spoons, forks, and knives, more pump organs than a brigade of traveling circuses, and enough articles of clothing to make make Macy’s seem impoverished by comparison. Yet scattered throughout the tens of thousands of artifacts stuffed into glass display cases, furniture jammed into small rooms, and old bricks and bric-a-brac just sitting on the floor, are some remarkable treasures. Finding them is an exercise in diligence, serendipity, perseverance and luck. But here a few worth finding.

First, though, a little background.

  • Though commonly known as the DUP Museum, the formal name is the Pioneer Memorial Museum.
  • The DUP also owns a number of “satellite museums,” smaller structures scattered across three states: three in Nevada, seventeen in Idaho, and a whopping 108 in Utah!
  • Do you have a pioneer ancestor? The DUP probably has a photograph of them, and you can order copies online. You can also submit copies of photographs you own.
  • The building itself is a replica of the old Salt Lake Theater.
  • The museum houses the world’s largest collection of artifacts on one subject.

And it is the sheer size of that collection that can be so daunting. So here is a sampling, twelve treasures from the DUP Museum:

1. Brigham Young’s wagon. Yes, the very wagonCarriageHouse5 in which he entered the Salt Lake Valley and from which he said, “It is enough. This is the right place.” The wagon is perhaps the museum’s best known artifact. There is a photograph next to the wagon showing the wagon being driven in a parade celebrating the Jubilee – July 24, 1897.

2. Not as well-known as the wagon but located in the same room are three original handcarts used by pioneers crossing the plains.

3. A chair build by Brigham Young’s father in Mendon, New York, about 1834.

4. Jim Bridger’s walking stick and snow shoes. The same Jim Bridger who alledgedly  offered a thousand dollars to the man who could grow a bushel of corn in the Salt Lake Valley.

5. Brigham Young’s white vest which he wore to the dedication of the St. George Temple. In the same display case are Brigham Young’s white temple slippers.

6. A ticket to the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple. Next to the ticket is an usher badge from the dedication.

7.  A needlepoint stool or ottoman. Wilford Woodruff purchased the needepoint in England, brought it to Salt Lake, and had Henry Dunwoody build the stool.

8. The original Eagle which adorned the Eagle Gate on State Street.

9. An adobe brick from the original foundation of the Salt Lake Temple. Realizing that adobe would not endure sufficiently, the original adobe stones were removed and replaced with granite from Little Cottonwood Canyon.

10. A staff owned by Willard Richards, believed to have been used by him to fend off the guns at the door of the Carthage Jail.

11. Emma Smith’s spinning wheel. How did it get to Utah?

12. Original gowns worn by the Days of ’47 Royalty at the centennial celebration in 1947. The brocaded beehives and pioneer wagons adorning the dresses are pretty amazing.

Let’s make it a baker’s dozen and add the original Minerva Teichert painting, “The Water Hole.” I’m not sure it has ever been reproduced. And maybe I should mention the collection of Dan Weggeland paintings.

And did I mention that entrance to the museum is free? Go already!

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