Museum Plans Major Holy Land Exhibit

Dignitaries to represent region's three faiths

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

The Holy Land's importance to Christians, Jews and Moslems will be the focus of a major exhibition of English Romantic artist J.M.W. Turner's work at the McMullen Museum of Art this fall.

"J.M.W. Turner and the Romantic Vision of the Holy Land and the Bible" will feature approximately 75 works by Turner, making it the most comprehensive exhibition of his work on the Holy Land and the Bible ever assembled. The exhibit, which will be on display from Oct. 8 through Dec. 15, will include Turner works on loan from a variety of museums, galleries and private collectors in Great Britain, Israel and the United States. It also will include the preliminary drawings by English architect Sir Charles Barry from which Turner worked, as well as recent photographs of the Holy Land.

J.M.W. Turner's 1834 engraving "The Wilderness of Engedi and the Convent of Santa Saba" is among the pieces included in the exhibition.

Prince Ali Bin Nayef and Princess Wijdan Ali of Jordan, former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Boston Cardinal Bernard Law will serve as honorary patrons for the exhibit and have been invited to speak at a private preview gala on Oct. 7. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Eliyahu Ben Elissar will represent and speak for Peres.

Mordechai Omer, a renowned scholar of Romantic painting and director of the Tel Aviv Museum, will serve as curator for the exhibition. Omer selected the works for the exhibit and wrote a scholarly catalogue about Turner's work and the Romantic era's depiction of the Holy Land.

McMullen Museum Director Nancy Netzer said the exhibition and its related events aim to foster a spirit of ecumenism and positive dialogue among Christians, Moslems and Jews as it fulfills its scholarly mission. Its focus on the three major religions and their homeland, she added, also will appeal to several disciplines, such as psychology, art, biblical studies, music and geology.

"It is a pleasure to present this important group of paintings, watercolors, drawings and prints because they have remained largely unknown except to serious students of Turner's oeuvre," said Netzer. Turner "poses a paradigm for a way of looking at the Middle East which is non-political, uniting through a common vision groups which have fought over that land for thousands of years. It is our hope that this exhibition will foster a spirit of positive dialogue among people of different faiths in New England."

A series of symposia on Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a center of art, religion and commerce for Christians, Moslems and Jews will accompany the exhibit. They include "Significance of the Architectural Monuments of the Holy Land for Three Faiths" on Oct. 27; "Jerusalem and the Holy Land in the American Consciousness and American Politics" on Nov. 3 (co-sponsored by the Humanities Series); and "Role of Jerusalem and the Holy Land as the Center for Three Faiths" on Nov. 10. All symposia, which are free and open to the public, will be held in Robsham Theater at 2:30 p.m.

The Nov. 3 symposium will be followed at 7 p.m. by a candlelight ceremony in memory of slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the Jewish Community Center in Newton. "A Road to Peace" - the dedication of Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Drive, sponsored jointly by Boston College, the JCC and the Israeli Consulate in Boston - will conclude with an arts program featuring the Boston College Liturgical Dance Ensemble and readings from the poetry of the late Adj. Assoc. Prof. Francis Sullivan, SJ (Theology).

In addition, five films centering on the relationship among Christians, Moslems and Jews in Jerusalem will be shown in conjunction with the exhibit. The schedule for the screenings will be announced shortly.

For more information, contact the McMullen Museum at ext. 2-8587 or read a preview through the museum's site on the World Wide Web.

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