On Thursday, Alta Vista language arts teacher Mary Claire Gustafson, social studies teacher Mike Meaney and speech/journalism teacher Sarah Giesler visited the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations in Marseille. They wandered through the fort, gardens and art museum (including a temporary Pablo Picasso exhibit) before finding the Gallery of the Mediterranean.
(At right, Taysir Batniji's "Watchtowers" appeared below Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)
“The museum does a nice job of blending old and new, foreign and familiar,” Giesler said. “Some exhibits really pushed me to examine the relationships among people of different groups.”
The Gallery of the Mediterranean focused on how the peoples along the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea grew, prospered, interacted with and challenged - and continue to challenge - each other. The exhibit featured four sections: the development of agriculture, religion, citizenship/human rights and trade.
“I’m writing about the citizenship portion; I found it very interesting,” Gustafson said. “I think it brought to light that human rights have been a struggle for millions of years.”
Giesler agreed with Gustafson.
“The citizenship and human rights pieces were provocative,” Giesler said, “displaying the Universal Declaration of Human Rights next to art pieces that seemed to violate it. It makes me wonder how far we have actually come in supporting the rights of others.”
Meaney preferred a different area of the exhibit.
“I liked the religion portion most,” Meaney said. “I’m most familiar with it, so I didn’t feel too out of my realm there.”
“Jerusalem: Holy City of Three Religions” described the relationships among Judaism, Christianity and Islam in Jerusalem, displaying artifacts from each religion next to one another, echoing their coexistence in Jerusalem. Giesler found these displays thought-provoking.
“The exhibit represented the groups’ proximity to one another and interactions without dwelling on the tensions there,” Giesler said. “In reality, these religious groups struggle to live peacefully together in Jerusalem, as well as in Marseille, Europe and the United States.”
“I think it’s interesting to see the similarities and animosities between these religions, especially through an historical lens,” Meaney said. “I think our society in general is becoming less religious, so maybe one day, it’ll be better, but we’re not there yet.”