If you are like me, once you have read words that remind you of a song, you cannot help but have the song in your head all day. Such was the case after a visit to the Billy Graham Museum in Wheaton this week. Since there was such a snowy weather prediction, I decided to stay close to home and make a visit nearby. The museum is just a short walk from the College Avenue train station on the UP-W Metra line. When I have walked or driven by, I have noticed the banners hanging enticing me to go see the art exhibit inside depicting The Parables, so I promised myself I would check it out for you.
There is no charge for the art exhibit or museum, just a free will offering at the exit if you wish. The peaceful feel of the whole space after entering the enormous building and doors is noticeable. The art exhibit is modest but beautiful. Many art mediums are used to represent different parables in conventional and unconventional ways.
From etchings …
to gorgeous oil paintings on canvas…(I want these in my house.)
and modern art with a twist on a traditional story…
All of the artwork is beautiful and interesting and makes you think… “Why did the artist use this material?” and more than one time I said…”Ooooh, I get it.” Each piece has an excerpt from the parable and a description off to the side to help you think more deeply about why the artist did what they did, used what they used, and the relevance to today. The artwork can take as much or as little time as visitors want to spend on it, as does the rest of the museum. You could read for hours or just walk casually through.
Each of the sections of the museum is very different. The Rotunda is such a magnificent space. The walls are VERY dark (which I love) and make the tapestries almost glow against the background. The flash in my photo does NOT do these works of art justice. They must be seen in person.
The rest of the museum is a walk through the history of evangelism in the U.S. It is not exclusively about Billy Graham. It guides you through the years until modern day. It begins with authentic books and items from when the settlers were trying to convert the Indians to Christianity.
This statue depicts what the first Salvation Army volunteers looked like.
The self guided tour continues through history until the recent organization of what the Graham’s are involved in today. One of Billy’s sons, Franklin, is the head of Samaritan’s Purse. It is an international organization which delivers spiritual and physical aid to poverty stricken or war-torn countries. (My friend, Kathy, was with me and she and her daughter have participated with Samaritan’s Purse. She told me all about it as we read the walls. They have filled shoe boxes for children across the world. You might think I have lived under a rock, but I had never heard of it and she had participated in it. It was an ironic tie-in to the end of our visit. I always learn something about my friends when I am with them.)
We finished our tour viewing a glass sculpture called the Cross of the Millennium, which I couldn’t do justice to with a photo and they request that you don’t try. (No photo allowed of that one.) The next coincidence that also seemed VERY ironic to me was a huge rock wall with John 3:16 back-lit through the rock…(This is not the one that I apparently live under.)
Since this just happens to be the most Googled search in the last month, and even more, the last week, it seemed humorous to me that it was larger than life in this room. So no need to google for me. There it is. (If you were wondering, I did not “Tebow”. Although that would have been a funny picture…me Tebowing in front of this huge rock. I think Tebowing has become the new “planking”. I know… that was so 27 seconds ago.)
I won’t spoil the ending for you, but I have to say the last room you will enter will lift your spirits. After remaining pretty quiet and studious for some time surrounded by nice soft lighting (there is so much to read on the walls), you will not be able to keep from smiling, laughing or raising your arms like Lance Armstrong. (I didn’t, but I had the urge. They should definitely videotape this room, let you take it home, and then play it back for yourself when you want to smile at yourself.)
The Parables art exhibit is in the Billy Graham Museum until February 26th, 2012. After that, I am sure that they will bring in another exhibit because I missed the one they had last fall, so no matter when you go you will see something beautiful. You never know what you will find… if you seek.
Hymn credits: Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God, Karen Lafferty, 1972
(Yep, still singin’ it…can’t seem to get it out of my head.)