Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A Place for Meaning: Art, Faith, and Museum Culture

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

A Place for Meaning: Art, Faith, and Museum Culture

Article excerpt

A Place for Meaning: Art, Faith, and Museum Culture. By Amanda Millay Hughes and Carolyn H. Wood (Ackland Art Museum: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009. Pp. xvii, 249. $30.00.)

The Ackland Art Museum recently spent considerable resources in opening their institution to multicultural and interreligious dialogue. Their collection includes pieces that were originally created as expressions of faith and exhibited within the context of the worship ofthat faith community. Though the pieces are desacralized for the museum setting, they are still bearers of meaning. How does a secular institution negotiate these polarities with integrity? This book describes die museum's engagement with artifacts in their collection, and how those discussions shaped changes in the museum.

Placed at the intersection of culture and education, an art museum becomes a locus for ongoing dialogue about meaning, artifacts, and belief systems. Art is a symbolic language, both containing and transcending the culture of origin. The placement and description of die item informs its perception by the public, which may not reflect its perception by the faith community and culture which produced it. Important historical and cultural considerations are often glossed over in the labeling of the items. Museums are increasingly aware diat the former organizing principals of euro-centric assumptions do not hold in our multicultural present. The Ackland Art Museum embraced this dialogue tiirough its Five Faith Project, a project first begun in the mid-1990s as a way to enter into dialogue with the diverse communities which the museum served through items in the collection. …

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