The cultural and spiritual repository of religion is an indispensable resource for shaping public and cultural life in a post-secular era. Although the floods of culturally intrigued ‘pilgrims’ and spiritually ‘captivated’ tourists have marked religious sites on nationwide cultural maps, religious sites have yet to achieve a holistic interpretative experience which will reveal the deeper meanings of ecclesiastical art. The absence of ‘holistic interpretations’ from European Christian churches, addressing the tangible and intangible (faith) aspect of Christian tradition, run the risk of undermining both the cognitive and emotive aspects of visitors. Following a thematic analysis on interpretations found at Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches in Europe, this article investigates how religious sites adapt different interpretational strategies to communicate their stories. The findings are discussed with reference to heritage practices found at religious sites expressed through two coexisting cultural ideologies: the prominent postmodern cultural paradigm, expressed through New Museology, and the religious cultural paradigm, expressing religious tradition and vision. The research concludes that the more content a denomination appears to be over the postmodern cultural paradigm of New Museology, the more likely it is to experiment with postmodern interpretative strategies. In this context, the article raises the question of whether museum theory is applicable to religious settings. The bottom line is that stakeholders’ ontological presuppositions are the catalyst of how religious history, tradition, and faith, are negotiated and presented in religious settings.
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