In the Hall of Paleontology, troops of schoolchildren and toddlers scurry, skitter and squeal among ancient dinosaur bones and Tyrannosaurus rex fossils.

But tucked away in a corner of the Houston Museum of Natural Science, amid hushed tones and an air of veneration, the glory and grandeur of a great cathedral awaits. Here, under arched ceilings and muted lights, are the finely crafted treasures of nine centuries of Ukrainian Orthodox Christianity.

Ornately designed chalices, gospel covers and tabernacles gilded in silver and gold. Intricately embroidered liturgical vestments and altar cloths woven of velvet and golden thread. Icons, painted in deep shades of red, green and blue, and hinting of the rich influences of Byzantine and Western art.

“These are more than paintings. They relate the word of God, so we tried to treat them with reverence,” said Dirk Van Tuerenhout, the museum’s curator of anthropology, as he walked through the exhibit, The Glory of Ukraine: Sacred Images From the 11th to the 19th Century.

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