The Cleveland Museum of Art houses one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Western medieval art in the world. Acquired over a period of 90 years and formed by two of America's most distinguished medievalists, the museum's second director, William M. Milliken (1930–58), and the collection's former curator William D. Wixom (1958–78), the Cleveland museum's holdings include works produced in Continental Europe, the British Isles, and the Mediterranean basin from the 3rd through the early 16th century.
Sacred Gifts and Worldly Treasures: Medieval Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art was the first traveling exhibition to showcase a significant number of the museum's Early Christian, Byzantine, and Western medieval treasures. Comprising works of art executed in a variety of media—painting, sculpture, decorative arts, textiles, prints, and illuminated manuscripts—the exhibition offered a rich survey of the arts and culture of medieval Europe from the Late Antique period through the Age of Humanism.
Allowing visitors to explore aspects of artistic patronage, gifts and gift-giving, public and private devotion, courtly life, and medieval warfare, Sacred Gifts offered a unique and unprecedented opportunity to view the Cleveland Museum of Art's celebrated collection of Early Christian, Byzantine, and Western medieval art outside Cleveland, and to explore the rise of a decidedly Christian culture in both the East and West through some of the most lavish and prized examples of artistic production to survive.