Walking through this museum feels like rummaging through all the long-forgotten junk in someone’s grandmother’s basement … that is, if it were an enormous and well-organized basement.
The Pioneer Memorial Museum is the final resting place for many of the objects Mormon pioneers carried with them on their westward journey from Nauvoo, Illinois, and the museum strangely boasts that it is the world’s largest collection of artifacts on one particular subject. The museum is operated by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers, an organization devoted to remembering that fateful trek across the nation in search of the promised land.
Behind the glass cases are objects that tell of everyday domestic life that the Mormon migrants brought with them on their perilous trek — quilts, pianos, guns, dresses, and more. But some of the items are truly bizarre: One woman’s collection of rattlesnake rattles, a petrified potato, Victorian hair art, and a bloodstone that Mormon leader Brigham Young believed to be endowed with magical properties. There are even grim specimens like bottles full of teeth. Pioneering was no easy feat.
The museum also displays artifacts from the short-lived, theocratic State of Deseret, including currency and materials in the Deseret Alphabet, an alphabet invented by Young that never quite took off.