Inter-faith exhibit opens

Published March 1, 2006

Oxford, England
Britain’s oldest public museum has launched an art exhibition that aims to unite people of different faiths against extremism and estrangement from religious traditions. “Pilgrimage: The Sacred Jour-ney,” which has opened at the Ashmolean Museum and runs until April 2, is the first in a series of initiatives from the museum’s new Inter-Faith Exhibition Service, set up to promote religious understanding using art as a bridge between cultures and religions. Professor James Allan, director of the exhibition, told Ecumenical News International: “The interfaith exhibitions are a response to 9/11 and to today’s growing estrangement from, and extremism within, religious traditions and ethnic cultures.” With a list of patrons from all faiths and access to Oxford University’s academic resources and exceptionally rich collections of art, the exhibition aims to present artistic representations of religious concepts from the different faiths of Asia and the Mediterranean world. “The Sacred Journey” opened on Jan. 11. It explores the role of pilgrimage in Christianity, Islam, Judaism and the religions of South Asia using a thematic presentation of aspects common to all pilgrimages. It focuses on the departure, the journey itself, the central shrine and the return, suggesting that while religions may appear to differ they share particular concerns and nearly all have pilgrimage in common. Examples from the exhibits include texts from Hebrew manuscripts, the Qur’an and an illuminated manuscript from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales; a medieval map of the Holy Land and pilgrims’ aids including Buddhist prayer wheels. Images of central shrines include the Kaaba in Mecca and a large 17th-century model of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.


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