Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex Presents National Geographic Sacred Journeys Oct. 1 through Dec. 31

Exhibition with theme of spiritual journeys comes to Baylor's Mayborn Museum Complex. (The Children's Museum of Indianapolis)
Sept. 6, 2016

Exhibition recreates sites that inspire spiritual travels throughout the world

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Contact: Terry Goodrich,(254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (Sept. 6, 2016) — Each year, more than 330 million people around the world journey to sacred places to perform acts of devotion, express faith or seek enlightenment or healing.

From Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, visitors to Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex will learn about those pilgrimages through the exhibition National Geographic Sacred Journeys.

The exhibit, created with National Geographic photography, recreates places, spaces and events so visitors can observe, discuss and learn about the history and beliefs behind spiritual travels around the world.

This marks the only time the 7,000-square-foot exhibition will travel from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. The exhibit opened there in 2015.

The eight featured sites replicated in the exhibition include:

  • The Western Wall of the Second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, Israel
  • Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem, the site of Muhammed’s ascent to heaven
  • The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, site of Jesus’ crucifixion
  • The Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to which all Muslims are expected to make a pilgrimage, or Hajj, once in their lives
  • Tepeyac Hill and the Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, Mexico
  • Allahabad and Sangam at the confluence of three rivers sacred to Hindus at the Ganges River in India, site of some of the largest gatherings of humans on earth
  • Bodh Gaya, birthplace of Buddhism, and the Bodh Tree, where Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment in Bihar, India
  • Caves in the bluffs along the Dead Sea in Qumran, Israel, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered
  • Among the artifacts that will be featured in the exhibition are fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls, a large stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Jewish devotional objects taken into space by former astronaut David Wolf, the trunk Brigham Young carried from New York to Utah, a piece of the Kiswa (a gold-embroidered fabric, which drapes the Kaaba in Mecca), a throne built for the Dalai Lama’s U.S. visit in 2010, a replica of the Shroud of Turin, and a statue of Ganesh (Hindu god of good fortune).

    The personal stories of children and families who participate in sacred journeys or practices are woven into the exhibit’s story line, with artifact cases and text panels referencing those accounts.

    “Children and families will have the opportunity to learn about pilgrimages, festivals and important objects connected to a variety of sacred sites in the world,” said Charles Walter, director of Mayborn Museum Complex. “We are happy to bring this important exhibition to Central Texas and provide the tremendous opportunity for our visitors to engage with these truly unique artifacts and beautiful landscapes provided by National Geographic.

    In creating the exhibit, staff of The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis worked closely with local religious leaders and a national panel of academic experts in the fields of humanities, theology, world cultures and religious studies. The advisers shaped exhibit content to ensure that the most authentic artifacts, texts and other exhibit elements were selected and portrayed in an appropriate manner so that they may be understood by visitors with diverse perspectives.

    “Many Americans associate the idea of pilgrimage with the Middle Ages, but in fact it is a huge reality in the present world, something that affects literally billions of people,” said Philip Jenkins, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion.

    “Pilgrimage also provides a wonderful way of understanding religious impulses as they are expressed in different world faiths,” Jenkins said. “So we are dealing with something richly educational, something that provides a unique way of understanding different religious traditions, but it’s also breathtaking in terms of the beautiful places and buildings that will be explored.”

    Mayborn Museum Complex is at 1300 S. University Parks Drive on Baylor University’s campus in Waco, Texas.

    Admission, which includes Sacred Journeys and the entire museum, is $8; $7 for senior citizens; $6 for children. The exhibition is free to museum members and Baylor students.

    The exhibition is produced by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in collaboration with the National Geographic Society and made possible by a grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.


    Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


    Baylor University’s Mayborn Museum Complex is a multi-faceted museum featuring cultural and natural history exhibits, a hands-on discovery center and the Gov. Bill & Vara Daniel Historic Village. Among the exhibits are walk-in dioramas focusing on Central Texas, including one on the Waco Mammoth Site, and exploration stations for geology, paleontology, archaeology and natural history. The museum houses two floors of themed discovery rooms to encourage hands-on learning for all ages. For more information, visit Mayborn Museum.


    Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation based in Indianapolis and created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Lilly Jr. and Eli Lilly — through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment exists to support religion, education and community development. Its commitment to religion includes support for projects that strengthen the public understanding of religion.


    National Geographic is a global nonprofit membership organization driven by a passionate belief in the power of science, exploration and storytelling to change the world. It funds hundreds of research and conservation projects around the globe each year. With the supports of its members and donors, the Society works to inspire, illuminate and teach through scientific expeditions, award-winning journalism, education initiatives and more. For more information, visit National Geographic


    The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is a nonprofit institution committed to creating extraordinary learning experiences across the arts, sciences and humanities that have the power to transform the lives of children and families.

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