Art of Interfaith Understanding

Summer/Fall 2019 Series

This summer and fall, we are offering five special Art of Interfaith Understanding programs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  All programs will be guided by Rev. John B. Hougen, PhD, a consultant with Interfaith Philadelphia and a volunteer guide at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  These programs are co-sponsored by Interfaith Philadelphia & the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Division for Community Engagement.

Cost: $25 / $10 with scholarship

Free parking, entry to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the uniquely designed tour(s) of your choice are all included in this experience - a $40 value offered to you at just $25. Don't miss out!

If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Hougen at

Nature’s Revelations In World Religions

Wednesday July 10

6:30 – 8:30 PM

Plaque with Seated Buddha
Artist/maker unknown, Made in Thailand, Asia, Date: 15th century, Medium: Gold, Gift of Mrs. William L. Van Alen, 2004

All of the world’s major religions use images of nature to teach and inspire. For devotees, paintings and sculptures drawn from nature invite veneration of the Holy as they serve as  symbols of the Divine and reveal qualities of the Sacred. The vast collections of Asian and Western Religious Art in the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be explored during this tour / discussion. As we look and talk together, we will be nourished spiritually, and our understanding of diverse religious traditions will grow. This tour has been revised since it was last offered in 2017.

What Makes Jewish Art Jewish?
The Jewish Presence at the PMA 

Wednesday, September 11

6:30 – 8:30 PM

Head of a Woman (by a Jewish sculptor)
Amedeo Modigliani, Italian, 1884 – 1920, Made in France, Date: 1912, Medium: Limestone, Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Maurice J. Speiser in memory of her husband, 1950 

“Jewish” can refer to religion, culture and ethnicity. Throughout history, the Jewish people have been a minority living within  host cultures around the world. Some Jewish artists have assimilated more than others. Among art historians, there is vigorous debate about what makes Jewish art Jewish. We will look and discuss together art in the PMA’s collection that yields insights into different ways that art may be considered “Jewish.”  This is a NEW Art of Interfaith Understanding tour.

Prayerful Looking: Art and Spirituality

Sunday, August 11

1:30 – 4:30 PM

To God! Rockwell Kent
American, 1882 – 1971, Made in Fox Island, Alaska, 

Date: 1918-1919; reworked through 1963; Oil on canvas mounted on board, Copyright: © Plattsburgh State Art Museum, State University of New York, USA, Rockwell Kent Collection, Bequest of Sally Kent Gorton, All rights reserved.
Gift of Frederick R. Koch, 2012

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the perfect setting for slowing down from our hectic lives and nourishing our souls by contemplating great works of art. During this mini-retreat, the group will be guided in meditating together as we gaze at two paintings. Individuals then will be given time to meditate on a work of their own choosing. Finally, we will tour the works chosen, and share our experiences of looking prayerfully at art. This mini-retreat will follow the format offered previously, but will begin with contemplation and discussion of new works of art.

The Visions and Values of St. Francis

Saturday, October 5

10:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Saint Francis of Assisi 
Receiving the Stigmata

Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish c. 1395 – 1441, Date: 1430-1432, Medium: Oil on vellum on panel, Credit Line: John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

During his lifetime and in the 800 years since his death, Francis of Assisi has been a charismatic model for how to devote one’s life to imitating Christ: embracing poverty, celebrating all God’s creatures, caring for the marginalized, creating peace, and respecting people of faith from traditions not his own. His values have interesting parallels in the teachings of other world religions. This tour / discussion will feature encounters with images of St. Francis as well as art that illustrates the values that guided his life. This is a NEW Art of Interfaith Understanding tour.

Moses and the Burning Bush and Moses Removing His Shoes
Attributed to Dierick Bouts the Elder, Netherlandish c. 1415 – 1475, Date: c. 1465-1470, Medium: Oil on panel, Credit Line: John G. Johnson Collection, 1917

Graven Images:
Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Responses to Commandments Forbidding Images

Wednesday, November 20

6:30 – 8:30 PM

The Hebrew Bible, Old Testament and Hadith forbid idolatry with words that have been Interpreted by some in each of the Abrahamic religions to mean that humans should not create images of sentient beings. On this tour / discussion, we will explore religious teachings about making art as we look at examples of art from each tradition. While this topic has been addressed in tours offered in the past, on November 20, we will explore the issues in greater depth.  

Limit: 15 participants

Cost: $25 or $10 with scholarship 



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