Many of the works found in our museums have a religious significance because of the important part religion played in the past.
1. Do you think that religion today is as significant as Christianity was in the medieval period in Europe?
2. Many different religions are represented by today’s British society. Do they share similarities or are they clearly different? Do you think it is possible for them to co-exist?
3. What does the word ‘worship’ mean to you today and does it have anything to do with religion?
Many of the works of art on this site, and in museums and galleries generally, were made to go into churches, temples or tombs, or for individual contemplation and represent a particular belief system. But now, because they are admired as works of art, they are in museums where the environment is completely different. While an altarpiece showing the Passion of Christ makes sense in a church, it is read completely differently once it is displayed in a museum.
Think about the fact that the meaning of a work of art is determined by the place in which it is displayed. Choose one of the following objects and think about it being displayed in a museum.
1. Altarpiece: The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ
2. Christ as the Good Shepherd
3. Guardian of the Temple
Imagine you are a curator and you need to let people know about the original use of this object and make it interesting to people in the 21st century. How would you get this across? You might like to create a label about it, a video where you talk about it and its original use or a podcast about it that people can listen to on the internet. Once you have made your piece you can upload it onto the website with an image of the original. Ask your friends to look at what you have done and see if they know more now about the object’s original purpose than they did before.