FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NASHVILLE, Tenn./The Upper Room / —The final showing of The Upper Room’s “The Night of the Child” exhibit, a collection of nearly 200 nativity sets representing 40 cultures will end January 10. The 66-year-old Upper Room Christian art museum will then close to be repurposed into a more modern gathering space for prayer and spiritual practices.
“The decision to close the museum was difficult and based on several factors including financial and strategic ones,” says Stephen Bryant, publisher and world editor for The Upper Room. “As attendance and interest in the museum declined, a new vision emerged on how to use the space and art to help people deepen their spiritual life. Our intent is to convert the space from a museum to a formational center that will host prayer practices, trainings, events, and conversations with staff, neighbors, ministry leaders, and the general church.”
The Upper Room staff is currently evaluating the 2000-piece museum collection and will decide which pieces to keep. “We will keep our favorite pieces, those that lend themselves to our new ministry of the center and those that most closely align with our core mission, which is inviting people to create daily life with God,” says Bryant. The rest will be given to other organizations who will continue to make them available to the viewing public.”
The nativity collection was put together over the decades by Upper Room staff and donors to visually reflect how the birth of Christ is made known in different cultures and in honor of the worldwide reach of its popular daily devotional guide distributed in over 100 countries. Beyond the nativities, the museum collection includes religious art and icons, rare books and Bibles, original letters penned by John Wesley, hand-painted Ukrainian eggs, and more.
Bryant adds, “the museum has been a gift to more than 4 million visitors since 1953, and offered the unique experience of seeing Jesus through the eyes of other cultures. We give thanks for its creative witness and for Kathryn Kimball, our museum curator and collections manager. We celebrate the excellent hospitality and care she has provided guests for 40 years.”
The Upper Room Chapel remains open to visitors and will continue to hold a weekly worship service each Wednesday at 10:45 a.m. The Chapel features a nearly life-size woodcarving re-creating da Vinci’s painting The Last Supper and the World Fellowship stained-glass window.
Executive Director of Administration, Interpretation and Development
The Upper Room
The Upper Room is a global ministry dedicated to helping people create daily life with God. From its beginnings as a daily devotional guide, The Upper Room has grown to include publications, programs, prayer support, and other resources to help believers of all ages and denominations move to a deeper level of faith and service. The Upper Room is a part of Discipleship Ministries. Visit UpperRoom.org to learn more.