WACO — Each year, more than 330 million people around the world journey to sacred places to perform acts of devotion, express faith or seek enlightenment or healing.
From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, visitors to Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex will learn about those pilgrimages through the exhibition National Geographic Sacred Journeys. The exhibit, created with National Geographic photography, recreates places, spaces and events so visitors can observe, discuss and learn about the history and beliefs behind spiritual travels around the world.
This marks the only time the 7,000-square-foot exhibition will travel from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, where it opened in 2015.
The eight featured sites replicated in the exhibition include:
The Western Wall of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, Israel
Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem, the site of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, site of Jesus’ crucifixion
The Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to which all Muslims are expected to make a pilgrimage, or Hajj, once in their lives
Tepeyac Hill and the Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico
Allahabad and Sangam at the confluence of three rivers sacred to Hindus at the Ganges River in India, site of some of the largest gatherings of humans on earth
Bodh Gaya, birthplace of Buddhism, and the Bodh Tree, where Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment in Bihar, India
Caves in the bluffs along the Dead Sea in Qumran, Israel, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered
Among the artifacts that will be featured in the exhibition are fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls, a large stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Jewish devotional objects taken into space by former astronaut David Wolf, the trunk Brigham Young carried from New York to Utah, a piece of the Kiswa (a gold-embroidered fabric, which drapes the Kaaba in Mecca), a throne built for the Dalai Lama’s U.S. visit in 2010, a replica of the Shroud of Turin, and a statue of Ganesh (Hindu god of good fortune).
The personal stories of children and families who participate in sacred journeys or practices are woven into the exhibit’s story line.
“Children and families will have the opportunity to learn about pilgrimages, festivals and important objects connected to a variety of sacred sites in the world,” said Charles Walter, director of Mayborn Museum Complex. “We are happy to bring this important exhibition to Central Texas and provide the tremendous opportunity for our visitors to engage with these truly unique artifacts and beautiful landscapes provided by National Geographic.”
In creating the exhibit, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ staff worked closely with religious leaders and a national panel of academic experts in the fields of humanities, theology, world cultures and religious studies.
The advisers shaped exhibit content to ensure that the most authentic artifacts, texts and other exhibit elements were selected and portrayed in an appropriate manner so that they may be understood by visitors with diverse perspectives.
Mayborn Museum Complex is at 1300 S. University Parks Drive on Baylor University’s campus.
Admission, which includes Sacred Journeys and the entire museum, is $8; $7 for senior citizens; $6 for children. The exhibition is free to museum members and Baylor students.
The exhibition is produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.
*High-resolution images available upon request.