BELLEVUE, WA—FamilySearch International announces the grand opening of its Seattle Family Discovery Center, the first to open outside its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. Based in Bellevue, the center offers interactive experiences for visitors of all ages to discover, share, and preserve family histories and memories. It is free to the public. Find out more online at FamilySearch.org/discoverycenter/seattle.
Visitors to the center are provided with a tablet computer as a personal guide to interface with large touch screens, where they learn more about themselves, view family origins, and discover how ancestors may have lived and even dressed. Data used for the interactive experiences is drawn from online data at FamilySearch.org and select partners.
The center creates a “Museum of You” feeling through a variety of experiences and activities for children, five interactive station experiences, and software applications that explore family ancestral lines in fun, creative ways to help patrons discover famous relatives.
When asked how visitors respond to the new attraction, 16-year-old Brynn Stapley of Bellevue, Washington, said, “I see amazement at the technology, the information, and how it’s presented on big screens. Visitors get excited when they discover a little piece of new information that leads to more information about their families. I think people are surprised how much they learn about themselves and their cultural heritage and then leave eager to continue the journey.” Stapley is one of 23 volunteers at the center.
The center features a high-definition video recording studio, where visitors can answer questions about their life stories and archive the recording for long-term preservation so future children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren can access the recording later. Visitors can also bring a USB drive to take home a copy of the recorded session.
Becca Escoto, 26, resident of Bellevue and center volunteer, said she met a couple engaged to be married and encouraged them to record their engagement story for their posterity. “It was exciting to see them in the studio, sharing a story that will be important for their future family members,” Escoto said. “What a perfect start to begin their family.” Escoto said she was also surprised to discover that she personally is an eighth cousin to President Barack Obama through their maternal family lines.
The Seattle Family Discovery Center is a free community attraction funded entirely by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which FamilySearch International is a nonprofit subsidiary. “We believe our precious family relationships and experiences in this life do not end with death,” said Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch International and managing director of the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
“Today family history research and telling, sharing, and preserving family memories through stories, photos, and technology are engaging a growing number of individuals of all ages from every faith and ethnicity like never before,” said Brimhall. “Youth want to discover themselves and their family’s history in fun, exciting ways, and adults want to strengthen family connections and leave enduring legacies. The discovery experiences provided by this facility will help do just that,” Brimhall added.
Planning for the Seattle Family Discovery Center has been years in development, and construction was completed in April 2015. In addition to the family discovery centers in Salt Lake and Seattle, FamilySearch has announced future centers in London, England, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The Seattle Family Discovery Center is located inside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints facility at 15205 SE 28th Street in Bellevue, Washington.PHOTO A: At the Seattle Discovery Center in Bellevue, Washington, Trace Farmer of Seattle, Washington, discovers 4,586 people share his first name while using the “Discover My Story” experience.I think we can expect to see more of theses in the future.