Objects of Devotion:
Highlights from Rockhurst University’s Van Ackeren Collection of Religious Art

On special loan from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, the objects featured in this installation offer a glimpse into the hopes and fears of the people who worshipped with them hundreds of years ago. By 1300 in Western Europe, a form of spirituality emerged that emphasized emotional involvement. Faithful Catholics were encouraged to pray to images of saints who might bring their struggles and hopes to God’s attention. These images with their associated symbols helped a mostly illiterate society relate to abstract religious ideas. They also prompt reflection on the role art objects play in spiritual practices today, for practicing Catholics and for anyone who uses sacred objects to find comfort and connection with the divine.

All works in this exhibition are on loan from The Van Ackeren Collection of Religious Art at Rockhurst University. The University has assembled this collection over thirty years, in consultation with Nelson-Atkins curators.

Andrea di Bartolo, (Italian 1358/64 – 1428) Madonna of Humility, around 1400-1424. Tempera on Wood, Unframed: 35 3/4 x 22 1/2 in. (90.805 x 57.15 cm). Gift of Robert C. Greenlease Family, Van Ackeren Collection of Religious Art, Greenlease Gallery, Rockhurst University, 1972