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God(s): A User's Guide an opportunity to discover and reflect on religious practices
Figure of a saint (Jainism). Northwest India, 20th century. Marble. Collection of Anish Mehra (East India Company).

GATINEAU.- A print depicting the familiar face of Jesus Christ—but in the distinctive graphic style of the Tsimshian, a West Coast First Nation. A fierce, dramatic and colourful Indonesian wooden sculpture of the eagle god Garuda, who plays a role in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. An elaborately decorated ark (a receptacle containing a synagogue’s Torah scrolls) carved in 1923 by a Montréal artisan for the thriving Jewish community in Glace Bay, Cape Breton Island. These are only a few of the artifacts that are presented in the exhibition God(s): A User’s Guide at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Gatineau from December 2, 2011 to September 3, 2012.

This highly successful international exhibition adapted to a Canadian context is the first joint project between the Musée de la civilisation de Québec (MCQ) and the Museum of Civilization. Coming from the Museum of Europe and Tempora SA (Brussels), God(s): A User’s Guide made its Canadian debut at the MCQ in Québec City from November 10, 2010 to September 11, 2011.

“This exhibition is an exciting partnership with the Musée de la civilisation,” said Mark O’Neill, President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of Civilization Corporation. “Combining the two institutions’ expertise, artifact collections and resources, we have adapted the European exhibition to reflect a uniquely Canadian perspective that celebrates the vast diversity, and the similarities, in the practices of the world’s most widespread religions.”

“God(s): A User’s Guide is an example of how like-minded museums can work together to present the public with exciting opportunities to explore how our history and heritage impact society today,” said Michel Côté, Executive Director of the Musée de la civilisation de Québec. “We look forward to many more successful projects in our partnership with the Canadian Museum of Civilization.”

The exhibition offers visitors experiential insights—through a combination of 225 exquisite and evocative sacred objects and other artifacts, sounds, multimedia, lighting and interactive elements—into the practices and beliefs of the world’s major religions. Its 11 themes bring into focus how the universality of spiritual questioning is expressed through specific and diverse religious practices.

Whether believers or non-believers, visitors will find God(s): A User’s Guide a fascinating and mind-opening look at their fellow citizens’ religions, and a means of understanding how religions influence our multicultural society.

“We wanted to give visitors a sense of beliefs and practices of faiths other than their own,” explained Museum of Civilization curator Stephen Inglis. “By presenting these diverse artifacts in an atmosphere that is meditative and contemplative, we hope to inspire visitors to reflect on the larger issues and the universal themes that religion addresses.”

God(s): A User’s Guide will be presented at the Museum of Civilization until September 3, 2012.

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