Visiting Associate Professor of Religious Studies S. Brent Plate recently co-edited a book titled Religion in Museums: Global and Multidisciplinary Perspectives. Published by Bloomsbury, the book was co-edited with Crispin Paine of the Institute of Archaeology, University College London and Gretchen Buggeln of Valparaiso University.
The publishers describe the importance of the book for the present age: “Most museums throughout the world – whether art, archaeology, anthropology or history museums – include religious objects, and an increasing number are beginning to address religion as a major category of human identity. With rising museum attendance and the increasingly complex role of religion in social and geopolitical realities, this work of stewardship and interpretation is urgent and important.
“The volume contains chapters by scholars and museum staff from around the world who discuss a range of topics from museum architecture to the display of objects, and from museum education to the sacred functions of collecting. Along the way, important and sensitive issues such as repatriation, heritage and conservation are approached.”
Plate co-authored the volume’s introduction and afterword. He also contributed a chapter titled “The Museumification of Religion: Human Evolution and the Display of Ritual.” In this contribution, Plate examines the display of religion in two natural history museums—the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, and the Museo de la Evolución in Burgos. He contends that “the museumification of religion entails a refreshed understanding of religion in the history of human evolution.”