Exhibit takes visitors on sacred journeys

The Mayborn Museum displays a section on the Ganesh, a Hindu god, as just one part of its new exhibit, Sacred Journeys. This exhibit is open to the public from now until Dec. 31. Photo credit: Timothy Hong

By Joy Moton | Reporter

The Mayborn Museum opened a new exhibit, titled National Geographic’s Sacred Journeys, Saturday. The exhibit allows visitors to journey through various parts of the world while giving them a glimpse of different pilgrimages, festivals and sacred artifacts.

The display features virtual students who lead visitors on pilgrimages to Jerusalem, Mexico City, India and Mecca. As guests travel to their various destinations, they encounter sacred artifacts such as a page from the Gutenberg Bible, a Shroud of Turin replica, a stone from the Western Wall of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Visitors can also witness the stories of families who participate in sacred journeys as well as see captivating photographs from National Geographic.

Photo credit: Joy Moton

“Our best museums are about helping the community really deepen their relationship to the world, and as I walked through this exhibit, I realized how very little of the world I have personally experienced,” said Charles Walter, director of the Mayborn Museum.

The display was produced by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in collaboration with the National Geographic Society. A generous grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. enabled the exhibit to come to fruition. Experts in the fields of religion, world cultures and theology were consulted throughout the progression of the project in order to assure accuracy and clarity, said Rebecca Nall, assistant director of exhibits and communication and visitor services at the Mayborn Museum.

Along with the new exhibit, the Mayborn Museum has included showings of a National Geographic documentary titled “Jerusalem.” The film seeks to give viewers perspective on why the ancient city has been the center of so much controversy and significance within various cultures around the world.

“For more than 125 years, National Geographic has been documenting the world and its many cultures,” said National Geographic’s vice president of exhibitions, Kathryn Keane, in a press release. “This exhibition is another incredible journey for families to some of the world’s most sacred and historic places.”

Photo credit: Joy Moton

The exhibit will last until Dec. 31. Entry for students to view the exhibit is free.

“I think that it’s important for students to be able to come and experience a lot of these artifacts,” Nall said. “Some pieces are kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be able to see, and the photography is beautiful. You really feel immersed in the places.”

Through its authentic representation of various customs, the new exhibit provides opportunities for discussion about the significance of understanding other cultures.

“As a university, we’re definitely teaching the next world leaders ,and understanding other cultures is definitely part of that,” Nall said.

The Mayborn Museum will host three public local events in conjunction with the new display.

Baylor’s department of religion and the museum will co-host a discussion led by four Baylor professors titled “Holy Journeys, Holy Destinations” from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the SBC Theater at the Mayborn.

The museum will also partner with Waco Interfaith Conference for the Festival of Faiths where visitors will have the opportunity to learn about different faith groups and sample food from a variety of cultures. The event will take place from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 30.

Mayborn will also partner with BU Better Together for a panel discussion with Interfaith Students at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 in the SBC Theater.

“We are dealing with something richly educational, something that provides a unique way of understanding different religious traditions, but it’s also breathtaking in terms of the beautiful places and buildings that will be explored,” said Philip Jenkins, distinguished professor of history in the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University and the Mayborn spokesperson for Sacred Journeys.