Even for the non-religious, a trip to visit the Shroud Exhibit and Museum in Alamogordo, New Mexico is a fascinating look at one of the more controversial religious artifacts ever found. Featuring interactive exhibits that allow for an in-depth look not only at the Shroud of Turin but also at the research surrounding it, guests will come away having learned something about this important part of religious history.
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One of the main goals of the museum is to make sure the shroud can be accessed by everyone, including those who made be visually impaired. The museum is a non-for-profit and tax exempt 501(c)3 charity that is operated based entirely on donations. It is currently located inside the White Sands Mall. The museum has been open since the 1970s and counts among its main benefactors the Las Cruces Diocese, Shroud.com, and The Olde Post (a local religious goods and antique store). The entire museum is staffed by volunteers, which they are in constant need of. These volunteers run tours, answer questions, etc and are a vital part of keeping the exhibit and museum running smoothly and able to welcome the number of volunteers that pass through the doors every year.
The main exhibit at the museum is the information about the Shroud of Turin itself, offered in a multitude of different media styles.
The exhibit itself is interactive, with a full-sized, backlit picture of the shroud, as well as a 3D experience featuring the only VP8 interactive image analyzer in the county (which allows guests to be able to actually interact with a previously inaccessible analog computer). It also showcases all of the research done on the shroud as well as interactive kiosks with interesting facts and videos for viewing that presents the information in real time.
- The shroud is said to be the piece of linen cloth that Jesus was buried in, and his face can be seen in it. Carbon dating performed on the shroud traces it back to the Middle Ages.
- The actual shroud is located in northern Italy, in a cathedral dedicated to John the Baptist.
- The shroud has not been accepted or denied by the church, but it has been referred to many times. Most recently Pope John Paul referred to it as being a “mirror” of the gospel itself.
- It is still the subject of intense amounts of scrutiny and research, as many people are torn on its authenticity and meaning.
- The shroud was first photographed in 1898, which is the same year that the town of Alamogordo was founded.
There are also photographs located in the museum from a conference that occurred in Albuquerque in 1977, which lead directly to the 1978 scientist convention to study the shroud in more detail. This was the most scientists studying the shroud in one place at any given time in history. The photograph in display from this conference is created from Barrie Schwortz’s 1978 collection that was taken as part of the STURP (Shroud of Turin Research Project).
The exhibit and museum are open Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 1:00pm to 5:00pm, and Sundays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. It is only one level and, therefore, wheelchair accessible.
Tours are offered by both reservation and as drop-in. It is recommended that guests who would like a tour to call the staff ahead of time at (575) 415-5206. Tours are provided free of charge in English, Spanish, and German.
There are special events offered occasionally at the museum, focusing on any new research done on the shroud or just religious celebrations local to the area. Although they are not frequent, they will be updated on the main website and guests can check ahead of their visit to see if anything will be going on during their time at the museum. Most recently, the museum was host to a conference of scientists meeting again to diagnose its authenticity.
In addition, presentations can be done outside of the museum by some of the people involved with the daily operations. Deacon Pete Schumacher, who was the engineer of the VP8 machine from 1972 to 1978, and Deacon Andy Weiss, who is the current webmaster for the research website, are available to speak on-location at any church, school, or other organization. The presentations offered are adaptable for each audience and can focus on archeological, scientific, religious, social, or historical aspects. The deacons can do combined presentations or even lead a spiritual retreat, if requested. Length of presentation can also be catered to each individual group.
Shroud Exhibit and Museum, 923 New York Avenue, Alamogordo, NM, 88310, website, Phone: 575-415-5206