Places to Visit in Scotland
- St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art, Glasgow

Museum of Religious Life and ArtSt Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is located beside Glasgow Cathedral (built on the site of St Mungo's 6th century church beside the Molendinar Burn and the future City of Glasgow) and across the road from Glasgow's oldest dwelling house, the Provand's Lordship. The purpose-built stone structure was designed to blend in with these other ancient buildings and opened its doors for the first time in 1993. It is a popular attraction in the city with around 200,000 visitors a year.

Japanese Zen Garden
St MungoIt is claimed that this is the only public museum in the world which is devoted solely to the subject of religion. Despite being named after St Mungo, Glasgow's patron saint, it tries to cover all religions, not just Catholicism or Christianity. The many exhibits illustrate aspects of all the main religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Sikhism. The first object that visitors see is an authentic dry stone Japanese Zen Garden, the only one of its kind in the UK (see illustration above). It has been created from rocks, stones and sand to suggest land and sea and it is a tranquil view from the Museum's cafe.

Of course, Christianity is well represented too. The Museum's most famous exhibit is the Dali painting of "Christ of St John of the Cross". There was a public outcry in 1952, when Dr Tom Honeyman, the then director of Glasgow's museums and art galleries spent the city's entire annual purchasing budget (all 8,200 pounds or US$13,000) to obtain the painting. It is now the city's most famous painting. True to the aims of the museum, however, it is displayed just round the corner from a statue to a Hindu god. There are also a number of stained glass windows on display, illustrating Christian scenes and symbols. It is appropriate that one of them is of St Mungo himself.

There is also a section devoted to religion in Scottish history which does not pull its punches on the persecution, trials and tribulations over the centuries as the zealots of the different persuasions (including the temperance movements) tried to hold sway. Another section deals with birth and marriage from an anthropological perspective. The museum also deals with the way in which societies have dealt with life and death in different parts of the world.

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