The Museum of Biblical Art (MoBIA), located in New York City, currently has on display an exhibit of Renaissance sculpture borrowed from the cathedral museum of Florence. Despite its name, the museum officially “takes a secular perspective on the Bible’s pivotal role in art history.” The results of this approach, writes Maureen Mullarkey, can be detected in the exhibit:
Isolated from their liturgical setting, the art on view bespeaks a church submissive to secular pretensions. Without intending to, the [museum perpetuates] late modernity’s view of Christianity as a spent tradition, one that requires injections of museum prestige. Museumization allows Christianity to linger as an historical phenomenon, no longer a creative cultural force but compliant with the conceits of a post-Christian culture.
MoBIA follows the reigning practice of translating enhancements for a sacral setting into museum stock on shelves in the cultural pantry.