Gods’ Collections – a call for contributions

By Crispin Paine and Jessica Hughes

Places of worship of all traditions – here for convenience all called ‘temples’ – have always accumulated collections. Today some temples have generated great art museums, while others just keep a few old things in a sacristy cupboard. This new project will look at why and how these collections have developed, how they have been looked after, and how understanding of them has changed over the millennia.


Gods’ Collections is a multi-stage project, with three main components: (1) a website hosting essays, case-studies, interviews, films and more; (2) a series of seminars and other events, starting in 2022; and (3) an edited book, which has been offered to the Bloomsbury Studies in Material Religion series.


We are now inviting a first tranche of contributions, which will be published on the ‘Collections’ page of the Gods’ Collections website (https://www.godscollections.org).

We suggest that contributions offer two things:

  • A description/analysis of one particular ‘temple’ accumulation, collection or museum
  • A wider discussion of the development and role of collections in temples of that faith tradition/period


Ideally, contributions will engage with some the points brought out in the website’s introductory essay (https://www.godscollections.org/essay): how and why the collection grew up in the temple, how it was seen, developed and treated by the temple, and how it was seen and treated by devotees and visitors. Analysis of how attitudes changed, and thus how treatment (display, curation, care) of collections changed, would be particularly welcome.

Essays should be between 1500 and 3000 words in length, and can include photos, videos, and links to other websites and resources. We welcome essays on collections from any historical period, and any part of
the world, and would be glad to receive completed essays by this coming October (2021).

If you would like to join in the project, or if you have any comments or suggestions for its improvement,
please email Crispin Paine (crispinpaine1@gmail.com) or Jessica Hughes (jessica.hughes@open.ac.uk)


Image: The Goldene Kammer ( Golden Chamber ) at the Church of Saint Ursula, Cologne. Wikimedia Commons

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