Campus & Community

Religion and the arts explored at Divinity School conference

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Starting this month, the Harvard Divinity School’s Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) will be hosting the directors of some of the world’s leading museums at regular intervals.

A new religion-and-the-arts initiative at the CSWR is getting under way with a conference Feb. 7-8, and is to continue with a 10-month colloquium series. Participants will include the directors of some of the world’s leading museums

The issues to be taken up at the conference and in the colloquium series are among the most controversial facing the museum world today: the politics of display and interpretation, the specialized care of religious artifacts and their repatriation. Additionally, the group will discuss the trend to move beyond objects and to incorporate performance and other means of artistic expression in museum spaces.

“The role of religion in shaping society is hotly contested,” said Lawrence Sullivan, CSWR director. “Sacred arts create a special place to thrash out the meaning of religion in a democracy. This meeting gathers a critical mass of leaders and models to provoke a new place for religion in the museum and in society.”

Stated goals of the conference and colloquium series include: convening a neutral forum for interdisciplinary conversations among experts in the museum field who influence policy; addressing the ways in which the study of religions is critically important to museums, and bringing together international experts to enrich, contribute to, and critique the CSWR’s continuing effort to conceive of a museum of world religions.

All portions of the religion and the arts events are open to the press. The keynote addresses and panel discussions are open to the public.