– excerpt – “Although the fundamental issue of resistence to presenting overtly religious art to a general public continues to exist, recently there have been significant changes. The trend seems to have turned somewhat. … the last decade (has been characterized as) a golden age of exhibitions devoted to religious art. An unprecedented number of exhibitions with overt religious themes and symbolism have received critical acclaim and attracted record numbers of visitors. The exhibition The Image of Christ, organized by the National Gallery in London in 2000 marked a milestone, since prior to that date few museums of the National Gallery’s stature had presented Christain subject matter with an emphasis on the religious. What started as an exhibition project that encountered resistance even from some of the museum’s own staff turned out to be the most attended exhibition in the United Kingdom in the year 2000 attracting over 350,000 people in a ten week run.

It’s immense popularity attested to the fact that there is a real market for exhibitions that analyze works of art as vessels of belief and seriously consider their religious significance and symbolism. The year 2000 also saw an analysis of the history of representations of Christ in art … in the exhibition Anno Domini: Jesus through the Centuries. Organized by the Provincial Museum of Alberta,” (Curated by David Goa) “the exhibition explored visually the history sketched by Jaroslav Pelikan in his seminal study on Jesus. The exhibition was extraordinarily successful and the catalog sold out in record time. Other more subtle changes are occurring. A colleague who has been on the board for reviewing submissions for the Cleveland Museum of Art regional show … reported that twenty years ago very few works submitted would have had any religious dimension. Today … many do – including quite a few with overt religious and specifically biblical symbolism.”

– Religion on a Pedestal: Exhibiting Sacred Art, Ena Giurescu Heller, in Reluctant Partners: Art and Religion in Dialogue.

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