A Virtual Visit to a Luminous Collection of Spiritual Art

We get a private tour of a collection of artistic treasures with a spiritual focus. Our latest “virtual visit” is a look at artwork designed to inspire at the Loyola University Museum of Art.


Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Marc Vitali: There is artwork from Russia.

And a painting from Peru blends Christian beliefs with Incan motifs.

But European works are the foundation of the D’Arcy Collection, a treasure of medieval, Renaissance and Baroque art.

This assemblage of art occupies three galleries at LUMA, the Loyola University Museum of Art on Michigan Avenue.

Carlynne Robinson, Loyola University Museum of Art: We’re definitely focused on art illuminating the spirit, and I think that comes through our name, LUMA.

We want to provide a space for artistic expression that illuminates the experiences of humanity and the spirit. Something that comes up a lot when I talk to my colleagues at Loyola is that art has the power to transform society, and I think a lot of that is connected to the spirit.

Vitali: There is an abundance of three-dimensional work – sculpture and religious objects. The collection was founded in 1969 by a Loyola priest, Fr. Donald Rowe.

Robinson: Once it started to get more popular and the word got out through the curator and the university, we’ve had donations and acquired more pieces to supplement the collection.

Vitali: It also includes secular works that celebrate family milestones such as weddings and births.

Robinson: It’s beyond seeing a painting or a sculpture of Jesus Christ. It’s also about the way of life that people were living at the time and how their lives were greatly integrated with their spirituality, something that we may not see as often today but it’s still quite relevant.

Vitali: Also on view: the struggle for spirituality. Here, the prophet Job fights his demons.

This 500-year-old crucifixion scene from the Netherlands paints a grim picture on the horrors of execution.

This curious elephant clock represents Christ trampling the Devil. It was recently on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Robinson: We have a lot of people come through here for a specific event called Visio Divina.

Vitali: That means “sacred seeing.”

Robinson: … Where students from the Theology Department come through and sit with the art and have a kind of meditative experience.

I think especially during this time of pandemic … It’s just a time to be quiet and reflect on the human experience and society’s experience. I think even if someone grows up differently or has a different religion, we’re all connected by the idea of answering to a higher power, whatever it may be, and how it kind of grounds us.

More on this story

The D’Arcy Collection at LUMA is currently closed due to the shutdown. And when it reopens to visitors, it is by appointment only. 

Follow Marc Vitali on Twitter: @MarcVitaliArts

Note: This story was first published on May 12, 2020. It has been updated.

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors

Thanks to our sponsors:

View all sponsors