Ibn Arabi Lecture: Faith in the Museum by Neil MacGregor

8th November, 2023 @ 17:00


Please note the venue change: St John's College | Old Divinity School | Main Lecture Theatre

The Woolf institute is delighted to invite you to our annual Ibn Arabi lecture series, endowed by Hilary Williams Papworth in memory of Bill Papworth.

Faith in the Museum

European museums have long thought of themselves as secular civic spaces, heirs of the Enlightenment, and — especially in the French tradition — operating outside the religious realm. Yet the civic world they inhabit has changed radically in recent years. In many countries, religion is now politically centre-stage, and not only in India and Russia, Turkey and the United States, In a way unimaginable a generation ago, every European state now has to take a view on Islam. Everywhere, indigenous communities expect their beliefs to be respected in the display of their artefacts— or by a decision not to display them. What does this mean for museums? Can you show religious art without exploring the thought world which shaped it? Can you present objects of faith without, in some measure, endorsing the assumptions they embody?

About the speaker

Neil Macgregor began his career as a lecturer in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Reading in 1975. Editor of the Burlington Magazine from 1981 until 1987, he masterminded its transfer from the Thompson's Newspaper empire to an independent and charitable status. As Director of the National Gallery (1987-2002) he oversaw the opening of the Sainsbury Wing and a complete rehang of the collection. He became a household name in 2000 when he presented the BBC series with the same title as his exhibition Seeing Salvation, which examined images of Christ in Western Art. Macgregor was Director of the British Museum from 2002 to 2015. He is currently founding-director of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin.

Before the lecture, we cordially invite you to join us for the inauguration of the Ibn Arabi Library at 15:00.

How to book

Click here to register.

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