To get over our post-election day hangover, Hubby and I drove to Clinton, MA to the coolest museum, the Museum of Russian Icons. I visited the place about two years ago and wanted to return. Situated in a former factory building, MRI fits neatly into two floors (well, 2 1/2 if you include the eatery in the basement with it’s own collection of icons and Russian Orthodox music playing in the background). The walls are painted black with red mood lights illuminating the ceiling. (It sounds weirder than it really is.)
The first time I visited I met the owner, a gazillionaire who collected the icons over numerous business trips to Russia once the Soviet Union fell apart. I recall he was nice and was a very enthusiasic (protestant) collector. He was at the museum this second time around, offering a tour to about 10 visitors.
The icons are amazing with their intense detail and color even after 500 years. I can understand if some may be offended that religious icons are now in a museum and are no longer used in worship. To defend the museum, each icon had an explanation about the story the icon was relating: Jesus, John the Baptist, the Apostles, and the Saints; how very didactic. During my earlier visit, I recall two men discussing one of the icons with Christ as the central figure. The discussion was whether Jesus was a man or divine. (He’s both, BTW.)
Hubby and I spent over an hour absorbing the images and stories. Our favorite icon represented Jesus’ descent into Hell. The icon had a green “sin worm.” Each bulge on the worm represented a different sin (envy, gluttony, etc.). I especially enjoyed Judas Iscariot sitting on the Devil’s lap, surrounded by flames.
If you’re out in central Massachusetts, check out the museum and then head down the street to the Old Timers pub. Enjoy!