"Fragmented Devotion"
New Exhibition Features Rare Medieval Art

By Rosanne L. Pellegrini
Staff Writer

    The McMullen Museum of Art will host an exclusive exhibition of medieval art, comprised of 62 objects never before exhibited as a group in North America. Titled "Fragmented Devotion: Medieval Objects from the Schnütgen Museum in Cologne," the exhibition will run from Feb. 7 through May 22.

    The works which will be on display are culled primarily from the collection of Alexander Schnütgen (1843-1918), a Catholic priest and collector in Cologne, Germany. The Schnütgen collection forms the core of a municipal museum in Cologne, which now constitutes one of the largest and most important assemblages of medieval art in the world. Most of these objects have never been shown before in North America, and many have not been published since an early 20th-century catalogue of the collection was produced.

    Accompanying the exhibition will be an illustrated catalogue intended to be a major scholarly contribution, featuring contributions from several Boston College faculty. In addition, there will be a series of related educational programs, including lectures, musical programs, a film series and symposium, designed to appeal to a wide audience.

    "We are pleased to present this exhibition, which is the first to examine these objects of Christian imagery through the lens with which they were viewed from the Middle Ages through the 19th century and into the 20th century - with special emphasis on the periods of German Unification and National Socialism," said McMullen Museum of Art Director Nancy Netzer.

    "Censer In the Shape of a Cross-Shaped Basilica," from the Moselle area of France, will be among the items displayed at the upcoming McMullen Museum of Art exhibition, "Fragmented Devotion."

"It is especially exciting to offer an exhibition of this quality to the New England audience, where exhibitions of medieval art are so rare. Many of the objects are great treasures of extreme rarity, quality and preciousness," Netzer added, noting that "there are no comparable objects currently in North American collections."

    According to Netzer, medieval art survives today as fragments of larger works, usually displayed by historical period, geographic location, artistic medium, or iconographic theme. "Fragmented Devotion," she said, "is the first exhibition to explore modes of collecting, displaying, and interpreting these fragments, and the meanings they have in our understanding of medieval art and religious life."

    An opening reception and exhibition preview for invited guests will be held on Sunday, Feb. 6 from 2-5 p.m. The event will include talks by two of the exhibition curators, Prof. James Bernauer, SJ (Philosophy), and Schnütgen Museum Director Hiltrud Westerman-Angerhausen. Along with Netzer and Fr. Bernauer, other BC curators include Associate Academic Vice President for Administration Patricia DeLeeuw, Prof. Donald Dietrich (Theology) and Assoc. Prof. Virginia Reinburg (History).

    For the exhibition, the museum will be configured in a series of rooms to recreate the setting in which the objects were viewed in medieval and modern times. One section will introduce the viewer to the medieval functions of various objects. Another will explore how a group of medieval fragments were collected and presented to construct a vision of medieval Catholicism, and the third will enable the viewer to see how individual fragments from larger devotional ensembles became important as objects of art in themselves.

    Among the educational programs planned in conjunction with the exhibition will be a series of concerts, including a Jan. 26 performance by the Hawthorne String Quartet. There also will be lectures on Feb. 10 and 16 by, respectively, Index of Christian Art Director Colum Hourihane and Prof. Pamela Berger (Fine Arts) on aspects of medieval art.

    Other events include a March 26 symposium and a weekly film series from March 14-April 4 showcasing the medieval period .

    For information, contact the Arts Hotline at ext.2-8100, or the museum office at ext.2-8587.

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