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Glasgow, Scotland

St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art

This Scottish museum is the only one in the world to focus not on one religion but all of them. 

Housed in a building designed to look like a traditional Scottish fortress, the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art explores the very history of religion itself by offering a collection that spans not only time but also the entire globe, even bringing Britain its first permanent Zen garden.

Established in 1993 (not that one could tell from the accurately historic looking building), the two-story museum endeavors to provide a sweeping overview of the world’s religions through art, artifacts, and an open minded view of faith. The main floor of the collection is devoted to the Gallery of Religious Art which holds artworks created by the disparate world religions ranging from stained glass windows from Christian churches to statues of Hindu deities to a Turkish prayer rug. The nearby wing of the collection holds the Gallery of Religious Life, containing items and information related to duties and callings of various faiths. There are monastic robes in glass cases, displays describing the work of various missionaries, and an Egyptian sarcophagus. The second floor of the museum is devoted to the history of religion in Scotland itself. Focusing on six major religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism) the displays on the upper floor trace the development and influence of the world’s religions on the immediate area.

Outside the museum building is Britain’s first permanent Zen garden featuring contemplative greenery and groomed gravel spaces. No matter a visitor’s persona beliefs the St. Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art is likely to open their eyes to the other side of faith.