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Exhibiting the sacred: Holy matter in museum displays

When:Fr 08-10-2021 15:00 - 17:00
Where:The lecture will be offered online and physically, Court Room, Oude Boteringestraat 38, 9712 GK Groningen

Annual Lecture - Centre for Religion and Heritage

Lena Liepe, Linnaeus university, Sweden

Information: Mathilde van Dijk, mathilde.van.dijk
Registration: Send an e-mail to Kjelda Glimmerveen, s.k.glimmerveen, please announce whether you want to follow the lecture online or physically.
Please note: The lecture will be in English, but a translation in Dutch will be provided.

What is at stake when sacred matter is put on display in museum galleries and at temporary exhibitions? In order to suggest some answers, this paper focuses on medieval saints’ relics and the various choices that have been taken, recently and further back in time, with regard to how to properly frame and expose them – or not – in a public setting,. A separate, but related track will be the attitudes taken towards the handling of the spiritual dimension of church art when the present Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm was being planned in the 1930s – a case of special interest in a Netherlandish context since the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam provided a source of inspiration when the new premises were designed. The two strands of reasoning come together in a consideration of the tensions between the aims of a museum as an institution of education and enlightenment on the one hand, and the integrity, historically and spiritually, of sacred objects on the other.

Lena Liepe is professor of art history and visual studies at the Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden. She is specialized in the study of the art and architecture of medieval Scandinavia within a European context, with particular emphasis on the theory, methodology and the historiography of medieval art historical scholarship. She has published monographs on the role of relics in the liturgy and devotion of medieval Scandinavia (2020) , the museal displays of medieval church art in Sweden 1847–1943 (2018), Icelandic illuminated manuscripts (2009), the conception of the body in Nordic medieval chuch art (2003), and medieval stone church building in north Norway (2001).

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