March 28, 2018

MSU Broad Museum Adds Jim Shaw Collection of Didactic Art to its Holdings

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN—The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University has acquired The Hidden World, a collection of religious and didacitic art, texts, and ephemera assembled by artist Jim Shaw. The work was recently presented at the MSU Broad as a part of the exhibition Michigan Stories: Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, Alex Greenberger reports for Artnews.

The Hidden World is comprised of more than 1,000 objects and paraphernalia of religious and didactic art produced in the last fifty years. The collection began when Shaw purchased a book by the “cosmic visionary” Ernest L. Norman, the co-founder of the Unarius Academy of Science, a non-profit organization that “offers a comprehensive curriculum of self-mastery, based on the interdimensional understanding of energy—joining science and spirit.” The Hidden World has come to include works from various evangelical and New Age movements, Scientology, Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, and other groups outside the American religious and cultural mainstream.

Mike Kelley, a fellow Michigander and frequent collaborator of Shaw’s, called The Hidden World “the greatest collection of cultural oddities the [he] had ever seen.” The collection has been previously exhibited at the New Museum in New York, Chalet Society in Paris, and the Flax Foundation in Los Angeles. MSU Broad director Marc-Olivier Wahler, curator of the Chalet Society and Flax Foundation exhibitions, said in a statement, “The Hidden World will live in Jim’s home state of Michigan and will be an endless resource for research and inspiration for our curators, students, and faculty.”

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