Innovative Ways in Museum Communication: The Buddhism ABC

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Museum Rietberg in Zurich is currently hosting a special exhibition on the rites, teachings, values, stories, and legends of Buddhism. In doing so the exhibition also shows the spread of Buddhist ideas and faith in Asia and beyond. Where did Buddhism arise? Why has it almost disappeared in the region of its origin? Why are Buddhists ideas so well-received in Europe and America of the 20th century? These and more questions are discussed by the exhibition "Next Stop Nirvana - Approaches to Buddhism"

Very innovative approaches are taken for the the visitor communication: Instead of a typical exhibition catalogue a "Buddhism ABC" was printed in order to give deeper insights into the world of Buddhism. The publication is a cooperation of the Museum Rietberg with researchers from CERES, as for example the experts on South Asian religions, Prof Jessie Pons and Dr Patrick Felix Krüger. Further fruitful impulses for this project came from Bochum's Käte Hamburger Kollegs working group "Buddhism in Motion" and the ERC-funded research project BuddhistRoad. The booklet gives visitors explanations on the key-terms of Buddhism in simple language and is published in German, French, and English. It further sheds light on the entanglements between the cultural history of this religion and the West.

The exhibition addresses the basic questions of a Western audience on Buddhism and in so doing to the visitors with a little previous knowledge.
Often such thematic exhibitions are less accessible for a wider audience since the descriptions of the objects shown have to be restricted because of a lack of space. The "Buddhism ABC" however, offers help: Many terms, which appear on the description tables of the exhibition's objects but cannot be explain there any further, are made accessable in the booklet. Expecially those visitors, which are less familiar with Buddhism and its cultural enviroments, can find out more on this topic. This publication project of Museum Rietberg and CERES is a new way of public outreach, which gives typical and century proven forms such as exhibitions a new twist.