Religion in Museums

When museums and religion collide

Museum of Methodism

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The latest issue of ‘Methodist Heritage News’ brings the welcome news that the Museum of Methodism in City Road, London, is to be re-displayed. The museum is in the crypt of Wesley’s Chapel (the ‘cathedral of Methodism’) and next door to John Wesley’s House. Set up in 1984, the old museum was very much aimed at Methodists, and was frankly pretty earnest and wordy. The new will be aimed at a much wider audience, including local people, ‘people of other faiths and none’, and non-English speakers.

Most interesting is the explicit intention that the museum should ‘reinforce the message preached week by week in the Chapel…it will be a powerful tool to enhance the mission of the Church.’ It will be fascinating to see how the new museum tackles this challenge – and to compare its approach to the many other faith-based and missionary museums being developed around the world.

The project is being lead by Leslie Griffiths and Jennifer Potter, ministers at Wesley’s Chapel, and Consultants are Barker Langham. Much of the funding has come from Methodists in South Korea. Phase 1 (mainly an AV presentation) will open on May 24th this year.

Crispin Paine

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