In the late 19th century, the Berlin Museum, which then owned the Ghent Altarpiece, separated the painted fronts of these panels from their backs, which were also painted, by sawing them apart. This harsh measure was intended to facilitate the exhibition of the panels and their inspection by an art-loving public. But it also served to obscure the fact that the panels were created as ecclesiastical objects for display in a church, not as simply works of art. Is there something wrong with the display of religious objects as art? Did the museum mistreat the Ghent Altarpiece by facilitating its public display, or should religious art be displayed like other works of art? Why or why not?
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