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Piety and Pleasure: Western Travel to the Holy Land

April–October 2019 | Rare Book and Orientation Galleries

During the 19th century, an increasing number of Western travelers made their way to the area of the eastern Mediterranean known as the Holy Land. Imperialist incursions by France and Great Britain into the Ottoman Empire around the turn of the 19th century made territories like Ottoman Palestine newly accessible to Westerners. The travelogues and other literature written by tourists and biblical scholars visiting Palestine created popular interest back home in travel to these sacred sites, manifesting first in pilgrimage tours offered by Christian organizations and then in pleasure tours offered by travel companies. Expanding tourist infrastructure and modes of transportation fed the Western desire for travel to the Holy Land, which continued into the 20th century.

Piety and Pleasure: Western Travel to the Holy Land highlights this history through a collection of objects including travelogues, maps, postcards, and photographs. The exhibition explores how this interest in the Holy Land was connected to a longer history of travel to the western Mediterranean and coincided with and contributed to the development of Western tourism as we know it today.