Churches, Temples, Mosques: Places of Worship or Museums?

Edited by: Maia Wellington Gahtan

Edifir website

How do active places of worship accommodate non religious visitors? This is the theme of an international conference held at the Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici and the Great Refectory of Santa Croce, 20-21 April 2012 which brought together religious authorities of different faiths and museum personnel to discuss general problematic and also initiate a deep and continuous dialogue under the newly formed Forum on Museums and Religion.



Churches, Temples, Mosques: Places of Worship or Museums?
20 & 21 April 2012 – Florence, Italy

Central Questions
1. The division of space in the church: is this affected or guided by tourist visitors? Has the historical division and sacral use of space been interrupted or abolished in favor of a museological division of space? Has the influx of tourists created the need for ‘off-limits’ spaces that never had existed as such before? What is the liturgical consequence of the creation of these spaces?
2. Role of signs, didactic material and museum installations: do these belong in the interiors of houses of worship and if so, what rules of decorum should govern them? How do these rules differ from signage in other museums?
3. Conservation Issues and church interiors/cult objects: are church people and museum people here at odds? When objects are still alive and in use, how does this affect conservation practices? Should it affect conservation practices?
4. Church or museum access: what are the psychological effects of delimiting church or museum access by designating specific hours for each? What are the psychological effects of museum ticketing on the church goer and the museum goer?
5. Legal status of monument: is it legally under a religious authority and/or a superintendency/museum administration and how does this affect the above?

Conference Program

20 April 2012 – S. Jacopo in Campo Corbolini (Istituto Lorenzo de’ Medici, via Faenza 43 in Florence)

9.00 Introductory/Opening Salutes
Dr. Fabrizio Guarducci, Presidente Lorenzo de’ Medici
Cardinale Giuseppe Betori, Arcivescovo di Firenze
Prof. Maia Gahtan, Direttrice, MA Museum Studies

9.30 Keynote Address
Mons. Timothy Verdon, Direttore, Ufficio dell’Arte Sacra e dei Beni Culturali Ecclesiastici, Arcidiocesi di Firenze e Direttore, Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore

10.00 Session 1: Places of Worship in Italy and Abroad
Chair: Prof. Mauro Mussolin, Scuola Normale di Pisa
1. Padre Egidio Canil OFM Conv, Vicario del Sacro Convento, Assisi
2. Padre Saul Tambini, Direttore, Opera della Porziuncola, Assisi
3. Mons. Antonio Meneguolo, Delegato Patriarcale per la Basilica di San Marco, Procuratore di San Marco
4. Chanoine Domenique Aubert, Recteur, Cathédrale et Sanctuaire de Chartres
5. Ms. Marie Louise Sauerberg, Conservator, Westminster Abbey, London
6. Dr. Yusuf Natsheh, Director of Department of Tourism and archaeology Al Haram al-Sharif (Dome of the Rock and Al-Asqa Mosque)

14.00 Session 2: Places of Worship in Florence
Chair: Prof.Giacomo Pirazzoli, Università degli Studi di Firenze
1. Padre Antonio Di Marcantonio, Ministro Provinciale dell’ordine francescano dei minori conventuali e Rettore, Basilica di S. Croce, Firenze
2. Dott.ssa Monica Bietti, Direttrice del Museo delle Cappelle Medicee, Firenze
3. Dott.ssa Magnolia Scudieri, Direttrice del Museo di San Marco, Firenze
4. Prof.ssa Dora Liscia, Università degli Studi di Firenze e Responsabile, Museo Ebraico alla Sinagoga, Firenze

17.00 Roundtable 1
Moderator: prof. Mauro Mussolin, Scuola Normale di Pisa
Participants: Mons. Timothy Verdon, , Dr. Yusuf Natsheh, Chanoine Domenique Aubert, Ms. Marie Louise Sauerberg, Padre Saul Tambini

21 April 2012 – Refectory S. Croce, Florence (after the visits)

9.00 Cathedral and Baptistery visit, Mons. Timothy Verdon

10.30 S. Croce visit, Padre Antonio di Marcantonio

11.30 Roundtable 2
Moderator: prof. Giacomo Pirazzoli, Università degli Studi di Firenze
Participants: Padre Antonio Di Marcantonio, Prof.ssa Dora Liscia, Dott.ssa Monica Bietti, Mons. Meneguolo, Padre Egidio Canil, Dott.ssa Magnolia Scudieri

Warning: require_once(/home/ failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /home/ on line 108

Fatal error: require_once(): Failed opening required '/home/' (include_path='.:/usr/share/php') in /home/ on line 108