With over 700,000 objects, the Fowler Museum at UCLA has become a critical place for investigations of the arts and cultures of Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas. The Fowler recently received a grant from the Lilly Foundation for the project “Engaging Lived Religion in the 21st Century Museum.”
As part of this grant, Brent Rodriguez-Plate, associate professor of religious studies by special appointment, was invited to be part of an advisory group for the project. The advisory group, made up of academics and museum curators, will work with the Fowler to develop new modes of exhibition and community outreach.
They aim to highlight the place and function of religion within the lived experience of peoples from around the world, while also working with local communities in the Los Angeles area to curate and create their own stories in conjunction with the museum. A meeting in late January in Los Angeles marked the beginning of the project.
In New York City, The Rubin Museum of Art recently launched “Impermanence” as its theme for 2020. Plate was invited to contribute to the museum’s magazine, Spiral, for the theme. He wrote about “Green Remains,” noting the ways new secular burial practices continue in a quest for “afterlives” by returning the dead body to states of nature through water cremation, human composting, and more.
Plate attended the opening of the Rubin’s new exhibition “Measure your Existence.” He plans to write a piece for Religion News Service on the museum and this year’s theme.