At a juncture when world events have tragically underscored the need for understanding between faiths, the Museum of World Religions is a step in the direction of optimism. Opening Nov. 9 in Taipei, Taiwan, the museum is the brainchild of Dharma Master Hsin Tao, a Buddhist monk. (He set up the Museum of World Religions Foundation, which has been raising money for the project during the past 10 years.) The $66-million nonprofit facility is planned as an interactive learning center to encourage spiritual tolerance as well as a safe haven for sacred objects from all religions.
The museum's collections include texts, paintings, ritual objects and textiles, some of them gifts from religious leaders such as the Dalai Lama and the Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand. Exhibit halls offer multimedia displays meant to highlight the diversity and interconnectedness of the world's many belief systems. Visitors begin with an act of purification by immersing their hands in a curtain of water. Before leaving, they can leave their handprints on a wall that retains the impressions and hear recorded blessings from various religious leaders. Tao hopes the facility will become a site where spiritual leaders can meet to discuss and resolve their differences. Now that's faith.
Museum of World Religions, Floor 7, No. 236, Sec. 1, Jungshan Road, Youngho, Taipei, Taiwan; telephone: 011-886-2-8923-3088, www.mwr.org.tw. Open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closes at 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $3.50 to $7.