Located on the campus of St. Louis University is the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art, the world’s first interfaith museum that is committed to contemporary art that is religious and spiritual in nature. The museum’s mission is to have an open dialogue with both contemporary artists and the different faith communities of the world while also serving as a platform to promote interfaith understanding. One of the museum’s goals is to be a place that is inclusive and embracing and to be a place of healing and understanding. The museum’s visiting hours are Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. There is no entrance charge to visit the museum. The Hampton Inn & Suites St. Louis at Forest Park and the Parkway Hotel are the two hotels that are closest to the museum.
The Museum of Contemporary Religious Art was conceived in 1991, a year after the Jesuits moved out of Fusz Memorial Chapel to smaller quarters on campus. During the spring of 1991, SLU’s president, Rev. Lawrence Biondi, S.J., granted Rev. Terrence Dempsey, S.J. permission to convert the chapel into a museum that was to be devoted to modern religious art. The renovation work done on the chapel made sure that it was a suitable space for the displaying of art while at the same time honoring the chapel’s original use and its architecture. After two years of work, the museum was opened in 1993. The museum’s collection offers a wide range of religious and spiritual art. While much of the artwork on display pays respect to one faith tradition or another, others are more oblique but still spiritual. The art on display covers not only a wide range of faiths, but also a variety of different artistic mediums including acrylic and ink to materials such as blood, earth, Mylar, and helium. At the same time, the museum augments its exhibitions by hosting conferences, lectures, and performances with prominent theologians, visual artists, art historians, museum directors, doctors, lawyers, philosophers, psychologists, choreographers and musicians. Due to this, the museum has been recognized not only in America, but around the world and has been mentioned in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Art News, The Chronicle of Higher Education,Art Journal, the San Jose Mercury News, The Los Angeles Times,the Austin American-Statesman and The New York Times.
One of the upcoming events at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art is “An Interfaith Memorial in Music” which will be commemorating the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The event is a place for people of all faiths to come together and allow for reflection, the expressing sorrow and regret and to unify the community. The event will be held at the Sheldon Concert Hall on September 11, 2011 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. A flyer is available on the museum’s website and offers more information on the event. In the end, this museum is a major landmark to religion and faith in general.