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Sacred Arts Festival

First Floor Free. Additional Activities & Tours: $5 Adults, $3 Seniors/Students with I.D. Free for Members and Children 4 & under.

Glencairn’s mission is to present the history of religion using art and artifacts from a variety of cultures and time periods. Join us on April 25th to celebrate multiple religions through a variety of art forms. The Venerable Losang Samten will be dismantling a Sand Mandala (see listing for Tibetan Buddhist Sand Mandala), Jason Klein and J. Kenneth Leap, stained glass artists, will be blowing and painting medieval-style stained glass, stone carvers will demonstrate the finer points of their trade, and mosaic panels will be created. View our current temporary exhibit, In the Service of God: The Sacred Arts in the Middle Ages, and an exhibit about the history of stained glass-making in Bryn Athyn. Participate in family activities and relax at the Castle Café (provided by House of Coffee, Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, PA).

Sacred Arts Festival press release: Tibetan scholar seen in Scorsese’s ‘Kundun’ creating sand painting

Glencairn Museum’s Sacred Arts Festival to feature exhibits, Tibetan sand mandala, glassblowing, stone carving & more

Some of the ways in which religious faith is expressed through art will be explored this month at Glencairn Museum’s first Sacred Arts Festival, featuring exhibits, live artisan demonstrations and the creation of a sand mandala by the Tibetan scholar who first brought this ancient meditative art form to the west at the instruction of the Dalai Lama.

The festival will be held April 25 at the museum of religious art and history, 1001 Cathedral Rd., Bryn Athyn.

Losang Samten, spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhist Center of Philadelphia, will build the mandala, or sand painting, during the three days leading up to the festival, with visitors invited to observe from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 22, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 23, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. April 24. The mandala - the circular design of colored sand is said to represent spiritual truths - will be dismantled beginning at 4 p.m. April 25 in a ritual ceremony open to the public. Samten, and anyone wanting to observe, will make a five-minute trek to a pond on Glencairn’s property to place the remaining sand into the water, which is considered a great blessing.

Samten was religious technical advisor, sand mandala supervisor, and an actor in director Martin Scorsese’s film “Kundun.” A renowned Tibetan scholar, Samten was instructed in 1988 by His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama, to journey to the United States to demonstrate the art of sand painting – the first time a Tibetan mandala was shown in the west.

The ancient art form is but one of many examples of sacred art to be demonstrated at the festival.
“Spirituality can be expressed in many ways,” said Joralyn Echols, Glencairn’s outreach and public relations coordinator. “The sacred arts are a beautiful way to share with others what you believe and what you feel.”

Other festival highlights from 1 to 5 p.m. on April 25 include:
     * Live demonstrations throughout the afternoon April 25 of glassblowing techniques by Jason Klein of Historical Glassworks in Mt. Gretna, Pa. Visitors will see the materials and techniques employed in the making of glass for Bryn Athyn Cathedral and Glencairn. Some of Klein’s work, like jewelry and vases, will be for sale. “As he’s blowing glass, Jason explains exactly what he is doing and how it relates to the history of glassblowing and stained glass-making,” said Echols.
    * Stained glass painting by noted stained glass artist J. Kenneth Leap of the Stained Glass Center at WheatonArts in Millville, N.J. Leap will demonstrate some of the 12th century techniques used in glass painting, using designs adapted from Glencairn’s collection of medieval Christian stained glass.
    * Stone carving by Jens Langlotz. Langlotz was recruited from Germany to repair and maintain stone work in the medieval style in the Bryn Athyn Historic District, including at Bryn Athyn Cathedral. He shares his knowledge of stone, along with carving and preservation techniques.
    * Mosaic creations. Mosaic artist Carol Stirton-Broad of Elkins Park demonstrates the art of creating a mosaic from an assemblage of colored materials, like glass and stone.

In the Middle Ages, said Echols, stained glass-making was considered a sacred art. The subjects depicted in windows often were Biblical. “Stained glass was designed for use in cathedrals to inspire people to raise their thoughts to heaven and to God,” she said.

The Sacred Arts Festival also includes a temporary exhibit entitled “In the Service of God: The Sacred Arts in the Middle Ages,” a collection of ivory, enamel, wood, stained glass, mosaic and “the book arts,” or book-making.

Visitors also may participate in several sacred arts activities, including creating their own mini sand mandala, coloring a variety of stained glass window designs, and adding their own prayer flag design to a string of Tibetan-style prayer flags. Once a string of flags is completed, it will be hung in the Great Hall near the mandala.

In addition, festival visitors can visit a café sponsored by House of Coffee in Peddler’s Village, Lahaska, Pa.; explore Glencairn’s other collections, and take a cell phone audio tour of the museum.

Admission to the Sacred Arts Festival: sand mandala-making and stained glassblowing demonstrations, free; museum first floor, free. Glass painting, stone carving,  mosaic and hands-on activities: $5; $3 for seniors and students with ID, and free for museum members and children 4 and younger. For more information, visit or call Glencairn at 267.502.2600.

Earlier Event: April 25
Try Medieval Glass Painting!
Later Event: May 16
The Dodson Trio in Concert