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Religious Objects in Museums


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Table of Contents

Introduction Objects Curated Objects Visited Objects Worshipped and Worshipping Objects Claimed Objects Respected Objects Demanding and Dangerous Objects Elevating Objects Militant Objects Promotional Objects Explanatory and Evidential Conclusion Notes References

Promotional Information

This book provides the first concise, comprehensive overview of all the key issues surrounding a hotly debated topic: the presentation and inclusion of religious objects in museums.

About the Author

Crispin Paine is an editor of Material Religion: the Journal of Objects, Art and Religion.


This excellent study of museum exhibitions of religiously significant objects provides an illuminating overview of the issues and challenges arising from such exhibitions...Crispin Paine's book is a welcome new resource and will appeal to all who seek to understand the material dimensions of religious activity. -- Bruce M. Sullivan, Northern Arizona University * Journal of the American Academy of Religion *
Very readable book around the different ways in which religious objects are experienced in museums ... Paine has spent time gathering a rich collection of anecdotes, literature, and exhibition episodes that allow him to construe a lively sense of the differing parties that make up the museum experience today around the world. -- David Morgan, Department of Religious Studies, Duke University, USA * Journal of Contemporary Religion *
The comprehensive bibliography offers abundant resources for additional study. Overall, the volume is highly readable and desirable for museum professionals, museum studies students, and those interested in exploring new ways to consider questions of identity, display, and stewardship. -- Ariana Maki, University of Colorado Boulder, US * Museum Anthropology *
[This book] is a valuable tool for scholars interested in this topic, since it provides an overview on the main issues surrounding religious objects and helps us think about how they are displayed and experienced ... Researchers on material culture will find intriguing cues for reflection ... It will also interest museum and heritage specialists dealing with issues of preservation and dissemination of cultural heritage policies. More broadly, this volume will inspire scholars from a number of disciplines dealing with human-object interactions studies. -- Paula Di Giuseppantonio Di Franco, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research * Current Anthropology *
In this wide-ranging study, Crispin Paine shares his observations on how museums worldwide present religious objects ... [He] has evidently travelled widely and read deeply in order to research the subject ... Paine it so be congratulated on achieving the first publication to tackle such a wide-ranging subject. -- Tessa Murdoch, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK * Art and Christianity *
The author takes his readers on a magical world tour of tangible things that were once-and in some cases still are-used in a huge variety of religious settings. With a cosmopolitan lightness of touch, Paine demonstrates the radical instability of such things, even once they have found their way into museums. They do not have a single meaning or use, but are almost infinitely adaptable. Above all, he deftly shows that the "distinction between `religious' and `mundane' is a curious modern Western idea, incomprehensible to most people at most times." No other book introduces readers more engagingly to the puzzles surrounding how museums address the sacred realm worldwide. * Ivan Gaskell, Professor of Cultural History, and of Museum Studies, Bard Graduate Center, New York City *

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