Religion in Museums

When museums and religion collide

The Place of Sacred Art: A symposium exploring the interpretation of sacred art in secular and faith contexts

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Birmingham Museums
May – 9 May 2017
11.00am – 4.30pm
£20.00 (Adult)

Concession: £15.00

Pre-booking required


This symposium will consider the ways in which people reinterpret sacred art when it is displayed in new contexts or alongside art from different faith traditions. The day will also consider how displaying different types of art in sacred spaces also transforms our understanding of the sacred and artistic.

We will explore how we can look at objects that are already in collections and see them from different perspective, prioritising faith interpretation over the art historical context. It will also hear about how Cathedrals have negotiated being open to artists from different faiths and exhibiting work that challenges and questions.

There will be a variety of presentations exploring different aspects on the theme of the conference:

  • An academic, theological overview of the topic: Rev Dr David Cheetham
  • Multi-faith Art in a Christian Space: Very Rev Catherine Ogle and Orit Azaaz
  • Reinterpreting collections in a Secular Space: Dr Rebecca Bridgeman
  • Unexpected Encounters with Contemporary Art in a Sacred Space: Very Rev Peter Bradley

The day is delivered in collaboration with The Church of England and Birmingham Cathedral. It will be hosted by Canon Dr Andrew Smith who will also facilitate discussions enabling participants to explore the topic together.

There will also be a chance to visit the ground breaking and award winning Faith in Birmingham Gallery at the Museum and Art Gallery with curator Rebecca Bridgman.

Conference starts at 11am, registration and refreshments from 10:30am. Lunch is provided. If you have any specific dietary requirements please email Rebecca Bridgman:

In the AV Room at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

Book tickets online.

Speaker Biographies:

Rev Dr David Cheetham is Reader in Philosophical Theology and Head of the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is the author of numerous academic papers and books including Ways of Meeting and the Theology of Religions (2013), Understanding Interreligious Relations (ed. 2013), Intercultural Theology: Approaches and Themes (ed. 2011) and John Hick (2003).

The Very Revd Catherine Ogle became Dean of Winchester in February 2017 having previously served as Dean of Birmingham from 2010. She leads the cathedral in Winchester and serves as a member of the Bishop of Winchester’s senior staff team. With a first degree in Textile Design Catherine maintains a great interest in the arts and contemporary media. She was Chair of the Award-winning ‘Interfaith Kirklees’ project and has a strong commitment to interfaith dialogue and working. Whist Dean of Birmingham, Catherine worked with Orit on the project ‘Something Good’ a tercentenary celebration that involved working with artists from a variety of faith backgrounds.

Dr Rebecca Bridgman is Birmingham Museums’ first specialist Curator of Islamic & South Asian Arts and holds a leadership role within the curatorial and exhibitions team. She has recently collaborated with colleagues and community groups to create a new display at the Museum & Art Gallery on the theme of ‘Faith in Birmingham’. Rebecca is also chair of the national subject specialist network for Islamic Art and Material Culture that shares knowledge and expertise in these areas throughout the museum sector.

The Very Revd Peter Bradley, DL. Peter Bradley has been Church of England Dean of Sheffield since 2003. During his time in Sheffield, the Cathedral has been substantially rebuilt, from the golden weather vane on the spire to the centre for the homeless far below. During 2015, Peter led for the Cathedral on an international art show in Sheffield, showing major works from the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Collection in Turin throughout the Cathedral. More recently, he has welcomed a large exhibition of works celebrating the Divine Comedy by Dante.

Canon Dr Andrew Smith is the Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham. He has been involved in different aspects of interfaith work in Birmingham for over twenty years. He has worked closely with St Philip’s Cathedral on the ‘Something Good’ project and with the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in the development of their faith gallery. Andrew is the founder and chair of The Feast an interfaith youth project working across the country and more recently in Lebanon. He is a regular speaker and writer on interfaith issues

Birmingham Cathedral logo and The Church of England logo


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