History of Museums in Utah
Taken from the Utah History Encyclopedia. (Links Added)

The Desert Museum's first caretaker was Guglielmo Sangiovanni, who was succeeded by Joseph L. Barfoot in 1870. In 1871 the museum and curator Barfoot, without the menagerie, moved into other quarters. Exhibits focused on home manufactures, minerals, fossils, prehistory, and items of Mormon Church history. Ownership of the museum passed to the Mormon Church in 1878. Dr. James E. Talmage, a scientist and president of LDS College, became the first professional curator in 1891 and served until the museum's dissolution in 1918. At that time the collections were divided up, with the taxidermied animals and some prehistoric items going to Brigham Young University, the geological specimens and some animals to the University of Utah, and the bulk of the pioneer historical material being retained by the church.

The church collections resided in Temple Square's Bureau of Information until 1976, and were later transferred in 1983 to the newly built Museum of Church History and Art immediately west of Temple Square. This building currently houses extensive collections and exhibits. The museum is part of the LDS Church's Arts and Sites Division which also oversees other historic Mormon sites in the United States.

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