The Museum of Religious Arts, just south of Logan on U.S. 30, is an impressive, 20,000-square-foot building built into a hillside.
The sun shone through the stained-glass windows in the narthex-like entry to the museum, creating a kaleidoscope of colors on the walls and floor. The Italian-made stained glass is over 100 years old and came from Boys Town in Omaha.
The museum was started by Paul Lovell, a retired area farmer, and his wife, Helen. After attending services in a new, modern church, they became concerned with how much church history was being lost for the sake of “newness.”
Future generations might never know the beauty of ornate altars, statuary and old, artistic stained glass—and the history and religious traditions that surround them.
Thanks to donations of artifacts from all over the Midwest, the museum preserves these traditions—and much more. When we were there, the staff was beginning to set up for Christmas, including a display of 200 unique Nativity sets.
Also on display was a mite…as in a coin like the one the widow gave as her temple offering in the biblical account. About the size of a baby aspirin, it was the smallest coin circulated in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus.
There are religious artifacts missionaries brought back from their travels around the world…and a Holocaust Memorial exhibit of haunting images drawn by an artist during his time in a concentration camp.
The King of Kings exhibit offers a glimpse of what the Holy Land may have looked like at the time of Christ. Life-size wax figures depict nine scenes of Jesus’ life, including the Nativity, the Good Shepherd, Last Supper and Crucifixion. This world-class exhibit was acquired from the Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida. It’s nicely done—and moving.
This content previously appeared in the popular “Road Trip” series in Our Iowa Magazine. Learn more about the publication at www.OurIowaMagazine.com.