St. Mungo’s Museum – Glasgow // Scotland

When I left the Glasgow Cathedral (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) I crossed the street and came across…

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I was drawn to this museum first off because it was free and also because what is a museum about religion and art doing in Scotland where there are only Church of Scotland Churches and everyone is white and the same (at last coming from a biased American perspective)? To say nothing else, I was surprised and intrigued.

Also this is going to be a very long wordy post because I took pictures of lots of signs.

The first thing I came across were the doors to the building

cimg3028I appreciate what they were trying to do here.

Skipping ahead a little bit since I didn’t actually take pictures of the building itself…In the building they had this model of the building.

cimg3182aThe sign below it says “This building was originally planned as a visitor’s centre for Glasgow Cathedral. It was designed by Ian Begg, and inspired by Scottish architecture of the past. In 1993 it opened as St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, with the aim of promoting respect and understanding between people of different faiths and of none. ”

As you can see, it was actually quite a large building and the garden area thing was a zen garden with rocks and such that you could not walk on. I ended up eating my lunch outside because I couldn’t find a place that would let me eat my sack lunch inside and I wasn’t about to buy lunch (because I’m cheap/broke like that).

Anyway, back to the actual museum.

Just inside the entrance, before you actually enter an exhibits, there was a sign explaining that…

“The museum aims to show how important religion has been to people’s lives from earliest times to the present, drawing on the collections of Glasgow Museums.

“We hope the St. Mungo Museum will encourage mutual respect and understanding among people of different faiths and none.

“We would like to thank everyone who helped to make the museum, especially those from Glasgow’s religious communities who gave advice, donated objects and allowed their words to be used in displays.”

Also I should mention that most of their signs were in at least four languages. There was an obvious effort to be very inclusive.

Now on to some actual art.

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“One of a series of twenty-two panels depicting the ‘Fruit and Flowers of the Bible’ made for St. Ninian’s Wynd Church, Glasgow. This panel depicts roses: ‘The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose (Isaiah 35.1)'”
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“This painting tells the story of the Dreamtime travels of some of the myriad spiritual ancestors of aboriginal people from the region around Yuendumu in Central Australia. Their Dreamtime beliefs, that teach the inseparability of life, heritage and the land, are at the core of a culture that is over 40,000 years old.”
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“A magnificent modern calligraphic work in the greatest tradition of Moslem art. The Arabic texts drawn from the Koran and Hadith glorify God and His attributes”

“The background text reads:

“God- there is no deity save Him, the Ever-Living, the Self-Subsistent Fount of All being. Neither slumber overtakes Him, nor sleep. His is all that is in the heaves and all that is on earth. Who is there that could intercede with Him, unless it be by His leave? He knows all that lies open before men and all that is hidden from them, whereas they cannot attain to aught of His knowledge save that He wills [them to attain]. His eternal power overspreads the heaves and the earth and their upholding wearies Him not. And He alone is truly exalted, tremendous. (Koran, 2 – 255)

“The arrangement of the foreground is based on repetition of the following text relating to prayer:

“Invoke God, or invoke the Most Merciful: by whichever name you invoke Him, [He is always the One – for] His are all the attributes of perfection. (Koran, 17 – 110)”

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“A popular image of the Hindu god Shiva, showing how he subdued 10,000 heretics by dancing on the demon of ignorance.”
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This was actually from an exhibit about angels but this was the only picture that really turned out.

There was also this really big room where there were lots of artifacts from different religions displayed and it kind of talked about the way different religions address aspects of life from birth to death.

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As someone who grew up with religious books from only one religion, I found it really interesting to see some examples of books teaching children about other religions.
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This was a missionary poster used by Christian missionaries in China. “This one was used by Reverend Doctor MacKenzie in Manchuria in the 1930s…. The four picture titles are: A blind man gains his sight (top left), Preach the Gospel to the poverty stricken (top right), Suffer oppression and gain true freedom (bottom left), Proclaim liberty to the captives (bottom right)”
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“Despite the danger, some Jews continued to practice their faith in the death camps. This prayer book was presented by a survivor, Reverend Levy who lived in Glasgow until his death in 2009.”

Hopefully you enjoyed this little journey through the museum with me. There was obviously much more than these few pictures could depict but most of it was behind glass which made picture taking difficult. It was definitely not a perfect museum but I really appreciated what they were trying to do. I will leave you with this sign I found which gave me some hope for humanity.

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“Glasgow Forum of Faiths Declaration:

“The Glasgow Forum of Faiths was launched in 2002 by Glasgow City Council to promote friendship and understanding between people of different faiths.

“The forum was set up in response to the September 11th attacks in America and the war against terrorism. It aims to reduce tensions caused by international unrest and work for harmony and peaceful co-existence in our local communities. The Lord Provost of Glasgow chairs the group.”

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