Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

December 2, 2008

Beginning with a look back

The February 1993 issue of Art News included a notice penned by art historian Peter Selz announcing the opening on February 14, 1993 of “what may well be the first interfaith museum of contemporary religious art…”

It’s been over 15 years now since Saint Louis University’s Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (MOCRA) opened its doors to the public. The numbers are impressive enough for a small non-profit arts entity: 35 exhibitions, over 160 artists exhibited. But this is a museum rendered unique both by its space and its mission: a former chapel that is now the world’s first interfaith museum of contemporary art that engages religious and spiritual themes. MOCRA is dedicated to furthering the dialogue between contemporary artists and the world’s faith traditions, and to serving as a forum for interfaith understanding.

MOCRA is celebrating this anniversary year with two exhibitions–Pursuit of the Spirit in Fall 2008 and Good Friday in Spring 2009–that draw mainly on the museum’s collection and aim to showcase both the breadth and the depth of the work that has been shown since 1993. Since we hope that this new blog will introduce many readers to MOCRA, we thought that our readers might appreciate a survey of MOCRA’s previous exhibitions. So in addition to posts about current activities at the museum, each week we will feature a previous exhibition, giving a summary of what the exhibition was about, the artist or artists included, any special programs that accompanied the exhibition, and a sampling of images from the show.

This week we will start, as a very sensible nanny once counseled, “at the very beginning.”

  • Tomorrow, we’ll explore in brief how MOCRA came to be.
  • On Thursday, we’ll eavesdrop on a major conference that took place even before the museum opened.
  • Finally, on Friday we’ll look back at MOCRA’s inaugural exhibition, Sanctuaries: Recovering the Holy in Contemporary Art.

–David Brinker, Assistant Director

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