One of the commonplaces of our cultural discourse is that museums are the new temples, and art, the religion of modernity. I’ve seen it expressed somewhere as “culture replaces scripture,” and I confess it made me chuckle, reading it from my office as director of a museum whose mission is to “celebrate and interpret art related to the Bible and its cultural legacy.” Seen from this perspective, MOBIA could be considered as rather counter-intuitive. I prefer to think of it as ahead of its times.
What we try to do at MOBIA is to put scripture back into culture. To think that culture can indeed replace scripture is rather reductive. After all, so much of our culture is informed, nurtured, and shaped by the books of the Bible and by the Jewish and Christian traditions. Come visit us and you’ll immediately understand what I mean. The art we show could belong in any other museum; the story we tell is a bit different because it highlights the religious context in which and for which art was created. I like to think we widen the lens through which we discuss, display and document art of a biblical nature.
Once you come to MOBIA, remember to come back often—being a museum without a collection means that every few months the experience is completely different. This spring, an exhibition of 20th-century Art Deco muralist Hildreth Meière will be followed by a reconstruction of a major 14th-century altarpiece from Siena, and, in the fall, by the first-ever exhibition to focus exclusively on Louis Comfort Tiffany’s liturgical commissions. One exhibition at a time, our message is this: enjoy the beauty of art while at the same time pondering why it was created, how it was perceived originally, and what it meant - and continues to mean - to its audience.