FYI SOUTH Magazine, December 2005

Museum of World Religions:
An enjoyable journey through the spiritual world

By Leslie Tseng Translated by Chou NaiXien

(02) 8231-6118
236, ZhongShan Road, Sec. 1, 7F, YongHe City, Taipei County
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.