February 12, 2010 / 5:01 PM / 10 years ago

Museum of Christianity prolongs phallic art show

UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters Life!) - A Dutch museum for Christian art and culture has prolonged an exhibit on phallic fertility symbols due to the high number of visitors it has attracted to the former monastery.

A Lingam is seen at the entrance of the Catharijne Convent Museum in Utrecht February 12, 2010. The exhibition features phallic works which present contemporary interpretations of an age-old Eastern religious symbol of fertility. REUTERS/Michael Kooren

Next to galleries of church ornaments, manuscripts and statues of saints, the exhibit showcases 122 interpretations of fertility symbols and explores their place in religious worship.

Artists’ contributions come in forms such as necklaces, lipsticks and a hammer, placed around three large phallic symbols from Cambodia, Egypt and India, often used for worship and sometimes called lingams.

Guus van den Hout, director of the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht, said the exhibit provided a chance to compare Christian traditions with other religions.

“Christianity is very much about reproduction. But if you show that — a beautiful thing, literally as well as figuratively — you get a lot of criticism,” he said in a video presentation.

“We are trying to bring those two aspects together: the serious side of Christianity, and the sensuality in us, which is something Christianity has trouble with.”

Guest curator and artist Ruudt Peters said he had aimed to challenge attitudes to the symbol in modern Western cultures, which he views as too simply connected with lust.

“It’s about reverence for fertility, strength, energy and creativity! Lingams represent deep symbolic and religious values,” he wrote in an introduction.

The exhibition will be extended for another two weeks after the positive feedback it has received from the roughly 5,000 people who have visited so far, a relatively high number for an exhibition of its kind at the museum, a spokeswoman said.

It will also be shown in Mons, Belgium later in the year while other galleries and museums around the world have shown interest, she said.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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