- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 1, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - Up the stairs and a few steps beyond the mezzanine, visitors at The Children’s Museum will find themselves immersed in a sea of color.

White robes, blue water, gold thrones and red dye come together in a new 7,000-square-foot exhibit that shares stories of faith.

“It’s an eye-opening experience for sure,” said Erin Fleck, a member of The Children’s Museum who previewed the exhibit last week.

“National Geographic Sacred Journeys” - a display four years in the making - tackles the topic of religion through the eyes of five children who are Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist.

“Sacred Journeys” will be on exhibit thru January 2016.

Christian Carron, director of collections at the museum, describes the exhibit as a “safe place for families and children to talk about religion.”

The goal, Carron said, is to introduce the community to religions, traditions and people from throughout the world.

Artifacts include a replica of the Shroud of Turin, a piece of linen some believe covered Jesus’ body after he was crucified, and a throne used by the Dalai Lama in Bloomington.

Visitors can touch a stone from the Western Wall where Jews pray in Jerusalem, and view fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

“My family is Catholic, so it’s neat to see all of the Christian artifacts, but everything is beautiful,” Fleck said. “I’ve been excited to see this for a long time.”

Virginia Tutterow, a longtime museum volunteer, also attended the Sept. 1 preview where she reminisced about her journey to Turkey in 1972.

The trip included a visit to a mosque in Istanbul. Tutterow couldn’t go inside back then, but during the preview she learned more about the traditions and history of faith.

“It’s beautifully done,” Tutterow said of the exhibit. “There were some things I didn’t know anything about.”

Dozens at the museum last week learned more about Tibetan Buddhism. A group of Tibetan monks who are touring the U.S. presented Children’s Museum President and CEO Jeffrey Patchen with a ceremonial Tibetan scarf to mark the opening of the exhibit.

Also last week, the monks greeted visitors as they constructed a sand mandala. The mandala, a spiritual symbol that represents the universe, will be on display after it’s completed.

Other artifacts to check out include an Elijah Cup and Seder Plate used by local families at their Seder meal during Passover, a Bible from Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Indianapolis and a piece of the Kiswah, the fabric that covers the Kaaba at the Great Mosque in Mecca.

“I’ve learned about stuff that I never learned in school when I was growing up,” said Lisa Yankey, a member of the museum from Noblesville. “It’s really great.”

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