TRAVEL HERE: WHAT YOU’LL SEE AT THE MBA
I certainly didn’t anticipate a multi-post series on the Museum of Biblical Art (MBA) when I sat down to write about my recent visit, but that’s what it’s turned into. We’ve chatted about the origins and history of the place, discussed the sculpture garden, a little architecture and the people who visited the museum with me. Finally, lets get down to the art!
So What is a Biblical Art?
That’s a good question but I don’t know if I have an appropriate answer. Inside the museum are examples of Judaica, modern mosaics, a bronze replica of the Pieta and an exhibition of some lovely gardenscapes, along with a collection of antique Bibles, a lot of statuary, many paintings and some prints loaned by Thomas Kinkaid. Basically, if art has to do with the Bible, then it’s Biblical Art.
I did some reading up on the museum as I wrote these posts and what the museum really doesn’t want to do is push a particular religious persuasion and that’s OK, but in truth, I found the exhibits a little uneven. Across the gallery from a huge and powerful original painting of the Resurrection by Ron Dicianni was a print by Thomas Kinkaid I usually see on thank you notes. Gorgeous Judaic religious items in silver and gold were around the corner from a guy painting in the style of Chagall. There were a few items by Chagall himself, but most were by this guy I didn’t know. Many of the items in the museum were engaging, but others I merely found confusing.
Let’s Get Going
The first area we entered was the Colonnade and the map says it holds works by American artists. However, the hallway was full of magnificent pieces of Judaica in silver and gold. Book-sized containers of gold and silver held miniature religious objects of the Jewish faith. They were gorgeous and interesting, but I didn’t see any symbols advising me of pieces described on the free audio tour, so even though I loved them I can’t tell you their significance. They are also left off the museum’s website, so it’s a mystery. Were the items created by American artists and if so, why are they disguised in ingenious containers that look like books? I didn’t get to read all of the signs all the way through, so I moved on with a lot of questions.
The next room was the McCreless Collection of European Art. I did listen to the audio tour’s description of the gallery. The gentleman who owns the collection didn’t go into a museum until he was in his 40’s and when he did, he fell in love with religious art and started collecting. His taste is eclectic, just like the museum his art is featured in. I saw a Coptic Cross, the life-sized Pieta replica I mentioned and a number of paintings that said they were after the style of or painted by the studio of artists I was familiar with. I’m still trying to figure out why anyone would want a huge bronze replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta. I could see it in a local church, (maybe) but a museum? It baffled me.
At the end of the Colonnade was a mixed bag. My first glance in the room landed on one of the Thomas Kinkaid prints. I happen to like Thomas Kinkaid in most situations, but being as familiar with him as I am, I almost didn’t bother going into the room and that would have been a mistake. Also in the room is the huge Resurrection mural on canvas. The chotskish souvenir bookmark does it no justice, because in real life the tomb is open and the painting is gorgeous. The detail of Queen Esther is just a hint of its beauty.
The Resurrection mural distracted us for so long that I almost missed the familiar drawing of Jesus I had seen so many times as a child. Intellectually I realized this stylized face of an American WASP is most likely not the face of the Resurrected Lord, but I have to confess that many times in my prayer, especially in my prayers addressing my deepest fears, this is the face I conjure when I cry out to Jesus.
I can’t believe it, but I’ve run out of words again and we’ve only scratched the surface. I promise if you will come back next week I’ll tell you about the rest of the museum!