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The Sacred Lives of Objects

Seeing and Being Seen in the Modern Museum

Objects are not usually thought to possess their own power. Indeed, when people are disempowered we say that they are “objectified.” But everyday objects, as well as objects of devotion, act upon us in powerful ways.

This exhibit seeks to explore the potential for power, movement, and action in devotional objects. We challenge you to remain open to the possibility that objects have complex lives of their own. As you look at them, they might be looking back.

Objects of Devotion 

Natalie Gummer and her RLS 210 Religious Studies class curated the "Objects of Devotion Exhibit." Click on the small images to read the sub-themes and view the individual objects.

This exhibit runs through November 10 in the North Gallery.

Objects of Devotion 


What makes an object live?

The life of an object isn't sustained by a heartbeat. It can be determined by ritual, belief, treatment, or deterioration. Just as a heartbeat doesn't define its life, a lack thereof does not define its death. The three objects before you are in ambiguous states of life and death. Look into their eyes: without the relics and devotional practices that once animated them, are they still alive?


Loriann Bork
9 September 2013
#3 of 4
Can an object act without your knowledge?
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Can an object give or take life?
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What makes an object live?

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