of World Religions:
An enjoyable journey through
the spiritual world
By Leslie Tseng Translated by Chou NaiXien
236, ZhongShan Road, Sec. 1, 7F, YongHe City, Taipei
Hours: 10 am-5 pm (closed Mondays)
When I first heard about the Museum
of World Religions, I wondered if you had to hold religious
beliefs in order to visit it. Yet, it turned out to
be completely different from what I had imagined. There
was none of the serious atmosphere I associated with
the word "religion", and I was amazed and
touched by the beautiful designs and spirit of love
and peace that united within this global institution.
Established in November, 2001, the
museum is divided into 10 major areas. Enter from the
seventh floor and you will see following: 1. The "Pilgrimage
Walkway", where visitors can ponder the meaning
of life while following the walkway and looking at pilgrimage
paintings on the wall. 2. The "Golden Hall",
representing the magnificent universe--golden mosaics
on the two pillars on either side are carved with the
museum motto, "Love is our common truth, peace
is our eternal wish" in 14 different languages.
3. The "Universal Genesis Hall" with a high-quality
theater where visitors can enjoy a 12-minute film about
different religions genesis theory.
Next is the sixth floor's "Journey
of Life" Hall, divided into major sections on birth,
growth, the prime of life, old age, death and afterlife,
each portrayed with different rituals and relics. The
adjacent "Life Awakening" Hall has films of
world religious leaders and famous people discussing
matters of life. The "Spiritual Learning"
Area is set up for visitors to study about how Buddhists,
Taoists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims and Jews practice
spirituality. Then there's the "World of Hua Yen",
an audio/visual experience of the spirit of Hua Yen.
Returning to the seventh-floor World
Religion Exhibition Hall, you can learn about the history,
life and cultures of the 10 main religions of the world
through artifacts, images, multi-media displays and
exhibits on a television wall. In the "Blessing
Area", touch handprints on the walls and blessings
from various religions will appear. Finally, the "Gratitude
Commemoration Wall" is covered with the names and
handprints of all the museum's sponsors as a sign of
gratitude and remembrance.
In July, 2003, the museum added an
architectural miniature model exhibit for the world's
10 main religions. These range from the Japanese Shinto
religion's Ise Jingu Grand Shrine and Jerusalem's Dome
of the Rock to Buddhism's Borobudur in Indonesia and
France's Chartres Cathedral. Through these very realistic
models, one can gain a deeper understanding of the symbolism
and sacredness represented by various religions. Not
only are the models' exteriors breathtaking, but their
interiors are also replicas of the actual buildings,
filled with delicately-made furniture, murals, wall
carvings, statues, decorative designs and other items.
Miniature videos cameras are placed inside the models
to better show visitors the interiors, allowing them
to view the decorations as if they were walking within
these sacred halls.
In January, the museum opened a very
special children's educational exhibition, titled "Forest
of Love: The Search for the Mystical Beast". Geared
towards preschool and elementary school children, a
colorful magical forest has been created where the biological
characteristics and behavior of virtual mystic beasts
help children learn about the true essence of love through
a series of games and discovery.
Taiwan should take pride in hosting such a creative
museum that provides a peaceful, meaningful sanctuary
where visitors from all backgrounds can experience the
spirituality and beauty of the world's religions.