chapter  12
16 Pages

Mobilising Mecca

Reassembling blessings at the museum
WithSteph Berns

This chapter draws on doctoral research into the religious dimensions of the museum visit. It discusses interviewed and observed visitors to the 2012 exhibition 'Hajj: Journey to the Heart of Islam', noting the diverse ways Muslim visitors encountered and engaged with the objects. To provide a sense of journeying and a feel of the sacred destinations, the exhibition assembled the story of Hajj as a pilgrimage with sections on the preparations, the arrival, the rituals and, finally, the homecoming. The chapter explains how devotional experiences with objects from Mecca required not only the object's journey but also a continual flow of things and people. It describes how blessings flowed, imaginations wandered and minds travelled on Hajj and in the exhibition. Focusing on an object that was made in Mecca, and then came to a museum in London, requires a wide lens that encompasses encounters inside and outside the Arabian city's borders.