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Art of Interfaith Understanding

2024 Series

The Art of Interfaith Understanding consists of unique tours offered in-person at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, other locations, or via Zoom. 

Most programs are guided by Rev. John B. Hougen, Ph.D., a consultant with Interfaith Philadelphia and a volunteer guide at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  They are co-sponsored by Interfaith Philadelphia, Wellspring at St. Martin’s, and the Office of Community Engagement at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

The sliding scale fee for each program is $5-50 with a suggested price of $25. For more information on how to determine the cost that is right for you, click here

Private groups (6 to 15 persons) may schedule tours either at the Museum or on Zoom. For questions about current, future, or private tours, or to receive email notices about the Art of Interfaith Understanding, contact John Hougen, Ph.D., at or 215-962-8242.


Jina (Jain Savior-Saint) Seated in Meditation Maternal  11th Century Artist Unknown, Made in Tamil Nadu, India, Medium: Granite, 42 x 40 x 14 ½" Weight 876lb. Philadelphia Museum of Art Credit Line: Acquired from the National Museum, New Delhi, India (by exchange), with funds contributed by Mr. and Mrs. Roland L. Taylor and with Subscription and Museum Funds, 1968

Art and Spirit in Your Life  
February 25, 2:00-3:30 PM
On Zoom 
Facilitator Rev. John B. Hougen, Ph.D.

Register here

Participants are invited to share a work of art, a symbol, crafted object, or architectural feature that is important to their spiritual and / or religious practice. Be prepared to introduce a work of art, share why it is meaningful for you, and tell how it fits into your beliefs or practice. Together we will explore the similarities and differences that emerge during our sharing. Each of us will "stand tall" as we reveal something about ourselves and "welcome in" others with respect and curiosity. Because each individual's spiritual journey is unique, our time together will be an experience of "the art of interfaith understand."

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Fountain from the Monastery of St. Michel-de-Cuxa 1125-1150 Artist / Maker Unknown 

Medium: Marble, Height 64 ¼" 

Philadelphia Museum of Art Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. William Filter in memory of her husband, 1930

Meditating Like a Monk: Prayerful Looking in the Cloister 
Sunday, March 17, 2:00-3:30 PM
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Facilitator Rev. John B. Hougen, Ph.D.
Register here

Many visitors to the PMA consider the cloister to be a peaceful place to rest and meditate. We will do the same. An introduction to the art and architecture of the Cloister and monastic meditation will be followed by periods of silent contemplation and an opportunity for each participant to select a symbol to present to the group, either because it is mysterious, and the group might unravel its mystery or because it has special meaning to the participant. You might choose a pelican, a squirrel, a stag, a peacock, a human face, a dove, or one of the many other images in this sacred place.

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James Peale (American, 1749–1831)

Oil on canvas, 15” x 21 ¾”

Philadelphia Museum of Art Credit Line: Promised Gift of the McNeil Americana Collection

Seeing the Sacred in the Ordinary
Sunday, April 14, 2:00-3:30 PM
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Facilitator Rev. John B. Hougen, Ph.D.
Register here

As we search for ways through tough times, healing and hope become possible as we experience awe and wonder. By combining the power of wise words with artists' ability to reveal transcendence as they portray everyday objects, we will practice seeing the sacred in the ordinary, a practice that can be incorporated into our daily lives. This event is another offering in popular series, Prophets of Hope

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Presenter: Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D. Rabbi Emeritus, Congregation Keneseth Israel, Elkins Park, PA. 

Art and the Crisis in Israel and Gaza
Sunday, May 12, 2:00-3:30 PM
On Zoom
Presenter: Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D. Rabbi Emeritus
Register here

As people of all faiths struggle to understand the crisis in Israel and Gaza and seek ways to empathize and express hopes for peace, Rabbi Lance Sussman will share with us the contributions of artists who provide a variety, of perspectives on the past, present, and future of the region and its people. Rabbi Sussman has lectured and published on the history of Jewish art and a sought-after commentor on Jewish life, culture, and the persistent dilemmas facing Israel, its citizens and neighbors. 


This program is part of our brand new Leadership Institute of Interfaith Philadelphia, home for all things professional/personal development.

The Institute includes all of the workshops that you know and love, plus new opportunities to explore, learn, and practice!

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