MAS: Sacred Places, Sacred Books exhibition

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MAS museum, Antwerp, Belgium

MAS: Sacred Places, Sacred Books exhibition Antwerp Reviews

Pearl510 Pearl510
162 reviews
One stunning exhibition on the pilgrimage and books of Judaism, Christianity and Islam Oct 28, 2014
I went to Antwerp especially to visit this exhibition. I just returned two minutes ago and I want to share it with you.

If you are in Antwerp (or anywhere close) between now and January 18th, and if you are even remotely interested in religion/religious history and understanding others (and you should since it's pretty bloody relevant), than DON'T MISS THIS.

This is a rather small, temporary exhibition that covers the differences and similarities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. There are two main approaches, and both take place in different locations.

Let's say the "main" one is in the MAS (Museum aan de Stroom), a rather new museum in Antwerp. It's a bit out of the way, but none the less it has a nice location by the "Willemdok" and the architecture of the building is pretty, too. It's a red, modern design, that anyone can enter freely. Only the exhibitions need payment. Even the rooftop is free for visitors and offers nice views over the city.

From Antwerp central station you can walk to the MAS in about half an hour, but it's not the nicest walk as it doesn't go through the old town. Instead, you can catch bus 17 from platform 10. This is right next to the station building (not in front of it). Walk out through the main gate, turn left and left again (so you walk along the wall of the station to the back of it, and after a few steps you'll see the bus stop. No need to cross the street. The MAS is at the last stop (some 12 minutes ride). Ask the driver. Upon getting of the bus, walk towards the water (don't cross the road you're dropped of on, just walk away from it) and you'll see the building appear immediately in front of you.

So in the MAS is the first part of the exhibition: "Sacred Places." This tells the story of pilgrimage in all three religions. It explains not just about the pilgrims but also about the destinations and how their importance for Jews, Christians and Muslims are (obviously) intertwined. It's a well composed and educational display.

Don't forget to grab one of the white little booklets before you enter. They're available in multiple languages and have introductions to each part of the exhibition, as well as explanations about every artefact on display. As a former pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela, an aspiring visitor to Jerusalem and an overall fan of religious art and history, I loved this exhibition, however, I liked the (smaller) second part even more!

Important note: this second, smaller part of the exhibitions only runs until December 21th 2014 and only opens at 1pm, so visit the MAS first.

From the MAS, you can easily walk to the Hendrik Conscience plein (square) in about 15 minutes. It's pretty much across the street and all the way straight until the last couple of meters. Check my review of Maison Tartine too, it's just around the corner of the library so you pass it on the way and it's a great place for lunch or an coffee break.

So this second part of the exhibition is found on one floor of the absolutely gorgeous Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library. It's small and intimate, dim lit and a little chilly. So when you drop off your stuff at the vestiaire (free) upon entering, don't strip too naked ;)

This part focusses on the holy books of all three religions and again, has a small white booklet to explain pretty much everything you need to know. It's an indispensable addition to the exhibition, since without it (unless you're already an expert on the topic) the artefacts won't impress much. There are some drop-dead-important-books on display, though. There's one of the first printed bibles by Gutenberg, for example, the Anjou bible, a fragment of the dead sea scrolls, a gorgeous Ottoman Quran,...

An extra, super nice thing about this exhibition are the video corners where you can hear interviews with actual Antwerp people, who tell their stories about their religion and books. It's nice to not only have the history lying before your eyes, but to get information from everyday, "normal" people. I liked what they told, too. Some of their thoughts utterly charmed me, and all of the information provided was pretty interesting and very, very well presented.

All in all, this is a different, very serene and respectful take on religion and religious history. It truly aims to explain and to create a greater understanding of what these religions have in common, what not, and why (not).

The full price for a combination ticket (which lets you visit both exhibitions - and obviously I do highly recommend to not skip the "holy books" one) costs 14 EUR. It also grands entry to all other exhibitions inside the MAS, but not to the other rooms in the library.

Well now: go see this exhibition :)

and make sure to take your time. You want to read the white booklets while you stroll from artefact to artefact and I promise you, you won't regret it.
It's a rather ugly picture of the …
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