Special Issue "Religion in Museums"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Victoria S. Harrison
Website
Guest Editor
Professor of Philosophy, Philosophy and Religious Studies Programme, Humanities and Social Sciences Building (E21), University of Macau, Avenida da Universidade, Taipa, Macau, SAR
Interests: Philosophy of Religion; Intercultural Philosophy; Asian Philosophies; Philosophy and Material Culture; Philosophy of Museums

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The vital role museums play in mediating cultural values and educating the public about them has been the focus of much recent scholarship within cultural and museum studies. Carol Duncan’s Civilizing Rituals (1995) alerted scholars to the religious dimensions of contemporary museum practices, thereby expanding the discussion of religion and museums in unforeseen ways. Despite this timely intervention into a discourse that had tended to downplay the religious dimensions of museum collections and museum practices, and notwithstanding the central place of religious objects within many museums, there remains a need for more scholarship devoted to the topic of religion in museums. In fact, although the relevance of material culture to religious studies is now widely acknowledged, the topic of religion in museums received little focused attention until the publication of Crispin Paine’s pathbreaking work Religious Objects in Museums (2013). On the practical side, museum directors and curators have grappled creatively with the issues raised by Duncan, Paine and others, and their efforts have borne fruit in such noteworthy museums as the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Art and Life in Glasgow, Scotland, and the Museum of World Religions in Taipei, Taiwan (to name only two).

The aim of this volume is to bring together work by scholars in religious studies, museum studies, philosophy, and cognate disciplines that addresses issues related to the curation and exhibition of religious objects in museums or to the representation of religious ideas and values within museums. Questions that might be explored include, but are not restricted to: How do museums address the sacred realm? In what ways are (different) religions represented in museums? How are religious objects transformed when they enter museum collections? Is the distinction between a ‘religious’ and a ‘mundane’ object a helpful one to keep? How do tangible objects convey religious ideas or values? How are religious objects used in museums? What ethical issues arise from the curation and display of religious objects? Submissions are encouraged that address the topic in the light of one or more religious tradition, and those with an Asian perspective are especially welcome. In addition, papers might discuss the topic of religion in museums generally or in relation to specific museum collections or exhibits.

Prof. Dr. Victoria S. Harrison
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • museums
  • religious objects
  • material religion
  • Carol Duncan: Crispin Paine
  • curating religion

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Deity and Display: Meanings, Transformations, and Exhibitions of Tibetan Buddhist Objects
Religions 2020, 11(3), 106; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11030106 - 27 Feb 2020
Abstract
This paper analyses the values and uses of Tibetan sacred artefacts in their original contexts as well as the transformation of meanings once placed in museums. It discusses the perception of statues, paintings, ritual instruments and books from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, examining [...] Read more.
This paper analyses the values and uses of Tibetan sacred artefacts in their original contexts as well as the transformation of meanings once placed in museums. It discusses the perception of statues, paintings, ritual instruments and books from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective, examining the iconographic and iconometric functions of the images, and asserting that a primary purpose is as a ‘support for practice’ (tib. sku rten, ‘body-support’). Sacred images represent the embodiment of the Buddhas, deities and masters and, once consecrated by lamas, are considered to have the power to confer blessings. Despite the instrumental function of such artefacts, however, it is also possible to identify and delineate a complex Himalayan concept of aesthetics. The text moves on to analyse the effects of the transition of Tibetan Buddhist images into different museological contexts, comparing the display of Tibetan material in the consecrated spaces of Himalayan monastery museums with their exhibition in secular museological sites in the West. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Museums)
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Open AccessArticle
Comparative Religion and Anti-Religious Museums of Soviet Russia in the 1920s
Religions 2020, 11(2), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020055 - 21 Jan 2020
Abstract
By the end of the 1920s, more than 100 anti-religious museums had been opened in the Soviet Union. In addition, anti-religious departments appeared in the exhibitions of many local historical museums. In Moscow, the Central Anti-Religious Museum was opened in the Cathedral of [...] Read more.
By the end of the 1920s, more than 100 anti-religious museums had been opened in the Soviet Union. In addition, anti-religious departments appeared in the exhibitions of many local historical museums. In Moscow, the Central Anti-Religious Museum was opened in the Cathedral of the Strastnoi Monastery. At that time, the first museum promoting a comparative and historical approach to the study and presentation of religious artifacts was opened in Petrograd in 1922. The formation of Museum of Comparative Religion was based on the conjunction of the activities of the Petrograd Excursion Institute, the Academy of Sciences, and the Ethnographic department of Petrograd University. In this paper, based on archival materials, we analyze the methodological principles of the formation of the exhibitions at the newly founded museum, along with its themes, structure, and selection of exhibits. The Museum of Comparative Religion had a very short life before it was transformed into the Leningrad anti-religious museum, but its principles were inherited by the Museum of the History of Religion, which was opened in 1932. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Museums)
Open AccessArticle
Muhammad at the Museum: Or, Why the Prophet Is Not Present
Religions 2019, 10(12), 665; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120665 - 10 Dec 2019
Abstract
This article analyses museum responses to the contemporary tensions and violence in response to images of Muhammad, from The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo. How does this socio-political frame effect the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, the V&A and [...] Read more.
This article analyses museum responses to the contemporary tensions and violence in response to images of Muhammad, from The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo. How does this socio-political frame effect the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, the V&A and British Museum in London, and the Louvre in Paris? Different genres of museums and histories of collections in part explain differences in approaches to representations of Muhammad. The theological groundings for a possible ban on prophetic depictions is charted, as well as the widespread Islamic practices of making visual representations of the Prophet. It is argued that museological framings of the religiosity of Muslims become skewed when the veneration of the Prophet is not represented. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Museums)

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Open AccessBrief Report
Change—But Not Enough Yet
Religions 2019, 10(12), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10120656 - 03 Dec 2019
Abstract
Many museums are now taking religion much more seriously, and there is a lot of academic interest in the subject. But many of the changes are very slow, and many museums are still ignoring religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion in Museums)
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