We are proud to announce that the Walters Art Museum has received a grant for $50,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts for fiscal year 2011. This grant is to help support the costs of presenting and interpreting the special exhibition Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe, on view at the Walters February 13–May 15, 2011.
This ground-breaking exhibition is organized by the Walters in partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Art and the British Museum. Treasures of Heaven will celebrate the artistic innovations of medieval artists as they challenged the confines of the material world in order to represent the divine. Medieval Christians venerated saints; their bodily remains were often displayed in special containers, known as reliquaries. Covered in gold and silver and embellished with gems and semiprecious stones, reliquaries proclaimed the special status of their sacred contents to worshipers and pilgrims. For this reason, reliquaries emerged as important objects of artistic innovation, as expressions of civic and religious identity, and as focal points of ritual action. This exhibition of 133 works will explore the emergence and transformation of several key types of reliquaries, moving from an age in which saintly remains were enshrined within closed containers to an era in which relics were increasingly presented directly to worshipers, from Late Antiquity until the Reformation and beyond.