Saturday, June 11, 2011

Museum of Biblical Art: Broadway and 61st St

I'm not a very religious person, and I generally don't like religious art (much of the older of which seems to be mass produced for the Catholic Church by "artists" who did not know much about perspective or realism).  However, as I walked between Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center to meet a friend yesterday, I noticed the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBiA) for the first time (amazing, I have walked by here innumerable times and never gave it much thought, thinking it was a church or something).  As I was a little early to meet my friend, I thought I would take a peak and see what there was to see for blogging purposes.

The museum is not religious in the sense that they do not advocate for anything and they focus on the artistic and/or historical nature of the pieces they have on display, so I felt pretty comfortable going through and enjoying the audio tour at my own pace.  Admission is $7 for adults and free on Sundays (which is when I would recommend going since it is unlikely to be very crowded) -- check out their website for a little background on their current exhibit (they have a pretty good slide show) and their permanent collection at MOBiA.

Their current exhibition called "Passion in Venice" has a lot of images of the Man of Sorrows, and most were the typical paintings and religious artifacts that don't normally do much for me, but there were a few pieces that truly elicited a visceral response (see photo at left -- his eyes in person are really penetrating, pained and questioning).  How can images of such anguish not evoke something?  It was riveting.

I was also impressed with the way the museum gathered major art pieces from all over the country.  There were paintings, texts and artifacts from the Metropolitan, the Gardner (in Boston), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and various universities and private collectors.  There was at least one Manet, a couple of Cezannes and other famous artists (whose names I did not recognize).

The MOBiA's own collection of Bibles, which today contains scriptures printed in more than 2,000 languages spanning six centuries, including 15 manuscripts and 42 incunables (early printed books), is one of the largest and finest of its kind in the United States (see right).  The current display of bibles ranging from as old as the mid 1300s was really interesting.  I particularly liked the mini pocket bibles.

Anyway, if you are in the neighborhood, you might consider adding this to any visit to Lincoln Center (see my prior post a Lincoln Center 1 or Lincoln Center Tours) or the American Folk Art Museum annex (please see my next blog post and my blog about the Folk Art Museum).

1 comment:

  1. Nice review! Thanks, I am thinking of seeing this museum when I visit NYC again.