A new museum to explore encounters, experiences and expressions of faith will open in County Durham in October.
The Faith Museum is located within the historic Auckland Castle in Bishop Auckland and will feature more than 250 objects from 50 institutions and private collections across England, Scotland, and Wales. It aims to explore how faith has shaped lives and communities across Britain through rarely-seen objects, national treasures, personal testimonies and contemporary commissions.
Highlights will include a silver Roman ring excavated in 2014 at the Roman Fort Vinovium. It’s known as the Binchester Ring, features images of an anchor and a fish, and is rare early evidence of Christianity in Britain.
The Museum will also house a copy of William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament from 1536, which is one of only a small number to have survived. The publication of Tyndale’s Bible was a key moment in English history, helping spread the ideas of the Reformation and serving as the basis for the King James Version.
The ground floor traces a path through 6,000 years of faith, beginning in the Neolithic period with the tactile Gainford Stone and ending in the year 2000.
The museum's upper floor will house a diverse programme of temporary exhibitions and installations, reflecting contemporary issues and timeless ideas. The galleries will open with a display of works by ten contemporary British artists, offering their individual perspectives on faith today.
Local faith leaders, academic specialists and community groups have provided thoughts and perspectives throughout the museum’s development process. It’s hoped it will appeal to visitors from all walks of life, whether they identify as religious, spiritual, or neither.
Clare Baron, head of exhibitions at The Auckland Project, said:
“We look forward to opening the doors of the Faith Museum to visitors this autumn. The objects and contemporary artworks on display tell the story of how people in Britain have expressed their faith throughout history, often in a very personal way. I’d like to thank all the lenders, artists, advisors and funders who have helped to create a space for us all to reflect on and discuss what faith means to us.”
The project, which has been ten years in development, is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Jerusalem Trust.