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Cleveland Museum of Art Announces Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe, open October 17, 2010–January 17, 2011, offers visitors a unique glimpse of the Middle Ages, a time when art mediated between heaven and earth and wondrous objects filled churches and monastic treasuries. Relics—the physical remains of holy men and women, and things associated with them—were especially important to the development of Christianity, which emerged as a powerful new religion in the Late Roman world.

Artists sought to bridge the gap between heaven and earth by fashioning special containers for holy matter. Nested within these special vessels, relics connected Christian faithful with sacred places and people who died as the martyrs of faith. Often covered in precious metals and encrusted with gems, these containers commanded attention.

The exhibition Treasures of Heaven explores how medieval artists expressed the sacred power of fragmented remains and considers the role that relics played in the development of the visual arts. The Cleveland Museum of Art co-organized this exhibition with the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore and the British Museum, London. The exhibition, on view in Cleveland from October 17, 2010, to January 17, 2011, will provide American audiences with an unparalleled opportunity to see about 100 extraordinary works of late antique, Byzantine, and Western medieval art, including precious metalwork objects, paintings, sculptures, and illuminated manuscripts, drawn from public and private collections as well as church treasuries across the United States and Europe. Several of these spectacular works have never been seen outside their home countries.

Treasures of Heaven: Saints, Relics, and Devotion in Medieval Europe was organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Walters Art Museum, and the British Museum. Support for the exhibition has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. The Cleveland Museum of Art is generously funded by Cuyahoga County residents through Cuyahoga Arts and Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

Image: Bust Reliquary of St. Baudime (detail), c. 1180–1200. Romanesque (French, Auvergne). Gilded bronze, gems, and enamel with a wood core; 73 x 43 cm. Puy-le-Dôme, Parish Church of Saint-Nectaire, Treasury. © Francis DEBAISIEUX, France

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