Posted on Leave a comment

Exhibit: Noah in Traditional and Contemporary Art

On display until December 31, 2019 in the Bible Museum.

Almost every culture extending across the populated areas of the Earth, has a flood story. Most often, these tales describe a massive, sometimes global flood, sent by a god or gods to punish humanity for its sins. The Biblical story of Noah is a perfect example of this worldwide phenomenon.

In Genesis 6:7, God says “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds, and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

The Story of Noah appears early in the biblical history of humanity, beginning with Genesis 5:28 when Noah is born to Lamech, to the flood story and a bit about his life and descendants after the flood in Genesis chapters 6 – 10. The story is full of dramatic imagery: Noah and his sons building the first large boat, the pairs of animals peacefully entering the ark, the deluge and subsequent voyage of the ark and the promise expressed through the rainbow. For centuries, the account of the flood has fascinated children and adults alike and has captured the imagination of artists like few other biblical narratives. Medieval artists viewed the flood as catastrophic, depicted the horrors of people and animals clamoring for high ground. Yet by the beginning of the twentieth century, more humorous and whimsical depictions begin to appear in children’s books and cartoons.

It is interesting that a story so full of sin, judgment, punishment, and pathos has been adopted as a favorite children’s story. Books, films, songs and baby nursery decorations feature smiling animal pairs enjoying a cruise on a large boat floating upon quiet waters. An interesting paradox when compared to the Biblical story.

“Noah in Traditional and Contemporary Art” combines the Bowden Collection’s exhibit “The Rains Came Down,” Bibles and artifacts from the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens collections, and Noah-relate items loaned by individuals. Bowden Collection items are designated with “The Rains Came Down” logo on their labels, Biedenharn Museum and Gardens have the “Biedenharn” logo, while loaned materials include the person’s name.

The oldest portrayals in this exhibit are two engravings by Nicholas Chaperon dating to 1649. Biblical leaves and illustrations from the Biedenharn’s Collection date from the 1549 “Matthews Bible,” through Illustrated Family Bibles of the 1800s and modern interpretations. There are also examples of Noah-themed folk art, mass-produced products, and modern humorous cartoons.

Programs of the Biedenharn Museum and Gardens are supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, and as administered by the Northeast Louisiana Arts Council, Inc. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works.

The Monroe-West Monroe Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has provided marketing and promotional funding for Noah in Traditional and Contemporary through its Tourism Development Program for Festivals, Events, and Marketing grants.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *