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Clare Baron

In this fast-paced, increasingly uncertain world, there is a need for spaces to pause, reflect, and consider our individual perspective or worldview


The Faith Museum has opened in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, UK. Housed in a 14th century wing of Auckland Castle and a contemporary extension by Niall McLaughlin Architects, the museum explores the ways faith has shaped lives and communities across Britain.

Revealing ‘encounters, experiences and expressions of faith in Britain’, the museum features more than 250 objects from private and public collections, including the Binchester Ring – a Roman silver ring excavated in 2014 that represents one of the earliest pieces of evidence of Christianity in Britain; an 18th century wooden pulpit built by miners for a chapel in Teesdale; and the Bodleian Bowl, a 13th century medieval Jewish artefact on loan from the Ashmolean in Oxford.

The ground floor explores 6,000 years of faith, beginning in the Neolithic period and ending in the year 2000. Contemporary expressions of faith are displayed within temporary exhibition galleries in the upper floor – a dramatic, immersive installation by Mat Collishaw has been specially created for the Great Gallery. Titled Eidolon, this large-scale work features a burning blue iris accompanies by a choral soundtrack, and is displayed alongside works by artists including Khadija Saye, who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

The museum sits at the heart of the Auckland Project, in Bishop Auckland, which includes historic buildings, art galleries, gardens, extensive parkland and a heritage railway. The Faith Museum is part of the wider restoration and redevelopment of Auckland Castle, which has been made possible with a £12.4m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which was raised by National Lottery players.

Local faith leaders, academic specialists and community groups have provided thoughts and perspectives throughout the development process. The museum aims to welcome visitors from all walks of life, whether they identify as religious, spiritual, or neither.

Here, head curator Claire Baron talks us through this unique project.

What is the aim of the Faith Museum? Why is this an important museum?
In this fast-paced, increasingly uncertain world, there is a need for spaces to pause, reflect, and consider our individual perspective or worldview. Although there has been a fall in the number of people participating in organised religion in Britain, there is evidence of a wide range of beliefs and spiritual practices among people of all ages and backgrounds. The Faith Museum aims to kindle people’s curiosity, raising universal questions about how we understand our place in the world and how we relate to one another.

What have been the biggest challenges with this project?
From the outset, the curatorial team were faced with one central challenge: how do you create a museum display centred on something invisible and intangible? Yet, over time, the challenge of defining the nature and impact of faith became the foundation of the museum. Instead of seeking to force a definition of faith, the exhibition invites visitors to consider how people across history have described and demonstrated it.

Each of the objects on display – ranging from valuable works of art to small, intimate objects – presents a reflection, shadow, or impression of an individual’s faith.

What are you proudest of?
Though the project has been running for many years, there’s one specific moment that stands out. It was the moment I first met Rachael Woodman, one of the artists exhibiting within the final gallery of the museum. Rachael is an established artist who has been working with glass for 35 years.

Despite the fact that her practice is deeply rooted in her Christian faith, she’s never been offered an opportunity to explicitly discuss this aspect of her work. I was immediately struck by her honesty and openness, and our conversations will stay with me. If the museum can prompt further conversations such as these, it will be something I can take pride in.

Do you have a personal favourite artefact in the museum?
For me personally, it has to be the very first object that visitors encounter in the museum. The Gainford Stone, on loan from the Bowes Museum, was created around 6,000 years ago. It is a cup and ring marked stone, carved with geometric patterns of concentric circles. We don’t know what the marks represent; it could be a map of the stars, or of the natural landscape. But what fascinates me about this object is the sheer effort and care someone put into its creation.

This was an act of creativity. The object has no practical use – it would not have helped someone to keep warm or to feed a family – which suggests that there is ‘something more’ to life than simply surviving. At the outset of the museum journey, this object invites us to consider whether or not we believe in something bigger than ourselves – be that a universal idea or concept, a deity, or another world beyond our own.

What do you hope visitors will take away from a visit to the Faith Museum?
One of our key aims was to give visitors a better understanding of the role faith has played in our nation’s history, and to emphasise its continued importance in so many people’s lives today. Faith can be a hard subject to talk about, so we wanted to create a place where people feel comfortable to consider and share their own experiences.

I hope that the museum itself is just the starting point and that, having left the building, visitors will continue to reflect privately, or discuss with family and friends.

Suppliers
Exhibition and Graphic Design:

• Studio MB

Project Management:

• Focus

Lighting Design:

• Nich Smith Lighting Design

Exhibition Fit-out:

• Workhaus Projects Ltd

Case Manufacturers:

• Glasshaus Displays Ltd

AV Software:

• Ay-Pe Studios

AV Hardware:

• WaveTek

Mount-making:

• Rutherford & Wheeler

Visitors are invited to reflect on the way faith has shaped the history of Britain Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
Visual artist Mat Collinshaw created a large scale work for the Faith Museum Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
Artefacts include a Book of Hours – a compilation of prayers and readings Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
A Neolithic carved stone ball on loan from National Museums Scotland Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
The museum features more than 250 objects from 50 institutions and collections Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
COMPANY PROFILES
iPlayCO

iPlayCo was established in 1999. [more...]
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
IDEATTACK

IDEATTACK is a full-service planning and design company with headquarters in Los Angeles. [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
 

+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

03-05 Sep 2024

ASEAN Patio Pool Spa Expo

IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
03-08 Sep 2024

Spa Peeps International Corporate Cruise

Cruise London, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, United States
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People
Clare Baron

In this fast-paced, increasingly uncertain world, there is a need for spaces to pause, reflect, and consider our individual perspective or worldview


The Faith Museum has opened in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, UK. Housed in a 14th century wing of Auckland Castle and a contemporary extension by Niall McLaughlin Architects, the museum explores the ways faith has shaped lives and communities across Britain.

Revealing ‘encounters, experiences and expressions of faith in Britain’, the museum features more than 250 objects from private and public collections, including the Binchester Ring – a Roman silver ring excavated in 2014 that represents one of the earliest pieces of evidence of Christianity in Britain; an 18th century wooden pulpit built by miners for a chapel in Teesdale; and the Bodleian Bowl, a 13th century medieval Jewish artefact on loan from the Ashmolean in Oxford.

The ground floor explores 6,000 years of faith, beginning in the Neolithic period and ending in the year 2000. Contemporary expressions of faith are displayed within temporary exhibition galleries in the upper floor – a dramatic, immersive installation by Mat Collishaw has been specially created for the Great Gallery. Titled Eidolon, this large-scale work features a burning blue iris accompanies by a choral soundtrack, and is displayed alongside works by artists including Khadija Saye, who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

The museum sits at the heart of the Auckland Project, in Bishop Auckland, which includes historic buildings, art galleries, gardens, extensive parkland and a heritage railway. The Faith Museum is part of the wider restoration and redevelopment of Auckland Castle, which has been made possible with a £12.4m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which was raised by National Lottery players.

Local faith leaders, academic specialists and community groups have provided thoughts and perspectives throughout the development process. The museum aims to welcome visitors from all walks of life, whether they identify as religious, spiritual, or neither.

Here, head curator Claire Baron talks us through this unique project.

What is the aim of the Faith Museum? Why is this an important museum?
In this fast-paced, increasingly uncertain world, there is a need for spaces to pause, reflect, and consider our individual perspective or worldview. Although there has been a fall in the number of people participating in organised religion in Britain, there is evidence of a wide range of beliefs and spiritual practices among people of all ages and backgrounds. The Faith Museum aims to kindle people’s curiosity, raising universal questions about how we understand our place in the world and how we relate to one another.

What have been the biggest challenges with this project?
From the outset, the curatorial team were faced with one central challenge: how do you create a museum display centred on something invisible and intangible? Yet, over time, the challenge of defining the nature and impact of faith became the foundation of the museum. Instead of seeking to force a definition of faith, the exhibition invites visitors to consider how people across history have described and demonstrated it.

Each of the objects on display – ranging from valuable works of art to small, intimate objects – presents a reflection, shadow, or impression of an individual’s faith.

What are you proudest of?
Though the project has been running for many years, there’s one specific moment that stands out. It was the moment I first met Rachael Woodman, one of the artists exhibiting within the final gallery of the museum. Rachael is an established artist who has been working with glass for 35 years.

Despite the fact that her practice is deeply rooted in her Christian faith, she’s never been offered an opportunity to explicitly discuss this aspect of her work. I was immediately struck by her honesty and openness, and our conversations will stay with me. If the museum can prompt further conversations such as these, it will be something I can take pride in.

Do you have a personal favourite artefact in the museum?
For me personally, it has to be the very first object that visitors encounter in the museum. The Gainford Stone, on loan from the Bowes Museum, was created around 6,000 years ago. It is a cup and ring marked stone, carved with geometric patterns of concentric circles. We don’t know what the marks represent; it could be a map of the stars, or of the natural landscape. But what fascinates me about this object is the sheer effort and care someone put into its creation.

This was an act of creativity. The object has no practical use – it would not have helped someone to keep warm or to feed a family – which suggests that there is ‘something more’ to life than simply surviving. At the outset of the museum journey, this object invites us to consider whether or not we believe in something bigger than ourselves – be that a universal idea or concept, a deity, or another world beyond our own.

What do you hope visitors will take away from a visit to the Faith Museum?
One of our key aims was to give visitors a better understanding of the role faith has played in our nation’s history, and to emphasise its continued importance in so many people’s lives today. Faith can be a hard subject to talk about, so we wanted to create a place where people feel comfortable to consider and share their own experiences.

I hope that the museum itself is just the starting point and that, having left the building, visitors will continue to reflect privately, or discuss with family and friends.

Suppliers
Exhibition and Graphic Design:

• Studio MB

Project Management:

• Focus

Lighting Design:

• Nich Smith Lighting Design

Exhibition Fit-out:

• Workhaus Projects Ltd

Case Manufacturers:

• Glasshaus Displays Ltd

AV Software:

• Ay-Pe Studios

AV Hardware:

• WaveTek

Mount-making:

• Rutherford & Wheeler

Visitors are invited to reflect on the way faith has shaped the history of Britain Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
Visual artist Mat Collinshaw created a large scale work for the Faith Museum Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
Artefacts include a Book of Hours – a compilation of prayers and readings Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
A Neolithic carved stone ball on loan from National Museums Scotland Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
The museum features more than 250 objects from 50 institutions and collections Credit: Photo: The Auckland Project
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COMPANY PROFILES
iPlayCO

iPlayCo was established in 1999. [more...]
Simworx Ltd

The company was initially established in 1997. Terry Monkton and Andrew Roberts are the key stakeh [more...]
RMA Ltd

RMA Ltd is a one-stop global company that can design, build and produce from a greenfield site upw [more...]
IDEATTACK

IDEATTACK is a full-service planning and design company with headquarters in Los Angeles. [more...]
+ More profiles  
CATALOGUE GALLERY
+ More catalogues  
DIRECTORY
+ More directory  
DIARY

 

03-05 Sep 2024

ASEAN Patio Pool Spa Expo

IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
03-08 Sep 2024

Spa Peeps International Corporate Cruise

Cruise London, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge, United States
+ More diary  
 


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Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

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