The Museum of Russian Icons was founded in 2006 as a non-profit educational institution by Massachusetts industrialist, Gordon B. Lankton. The collection includes more than 400 Russian icons, the largest collection of its kind in North America, and one of the largest private collections outside Russia. The collection spans six centuries, and includes important historical paintings dating from the earliest periods of icon “writing” to the present. Located in Clinton, Massachusetts, in a 150 year old restored mill building, this museum is a hidden treasure to icon aficionados.
When my wife and I recently visited the museum with two of our colleagues, we were overwhelmed by the beautiful galleries filled with icons. Each icon was purchased in Russia and transported back to the states by Mr. Lankton over the span of a few decades. All of the icons in the collection include a biblical story, character or saint, in addition to full representations of the Last Judgment, the ladder of humility, and even Minyeia representing the saints honored throughout the church calendar.
What struck us the most was watching a video of an elderly gentleman iconographer painting an icon one laborious step at a time. Each step in the process is prayerfully and carefully considered as the icon is created on the wood one layer at a time. The technique is specific, detailed, and filled with great attention to the subject at hand. A labor of love indeed.
The history of Russian iconography comes to life in this off-the-beaten-path location. Well worth the trip, the museum is unique in every regard. If your prayers are enhanced and your faith is strengthened by such works of art, then I highly recommend the Museum of Russian Icons.
Have you been deeply moved or affected by a piece of religious art? How and when?
How is the act of creation an act of love? How is it a spiritual act?
Stephen A. Macchia, D.Min., is the Founder and President of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (www.LeadershipTransformations.org); Director of the Pierce Center, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; Author of several books, including Crafting A Rule of Life (IVP) and Becoming A Healthy Church (Baker) and lives in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. Steve and his wife, Ruth, have two children, Nathan and Rebekah, and make their home in Lexington, MA.