WASHINGTON – The forthcoming Museum of the Bible is currently an evolving skeleton of brick, rebar and concrete that reaches toward the D.C. skyline and will, on one floor of the edifice, encompass an entire city block.
Up to 500 construction workers may at once mill about in neon safety gear building the non-sectarian museum that plans to be an unparalleled experiential walk through one of the world’s most sacred texts.
Museum President Cary Summers took The Christian Post behind the scenes on a hardhat tour through the 8-level construction zone last week, sharing the ongoing construction journey — a process that has presented a few challenges enroute to becoming arguably the first museum of its kind.
The 100-year-old structure is undergoing its most extensive transformation yet and Summers told CP about some of the challenges faced thus far — beginning with outdated blueprints.
“You may have the best idea based on the original blueprints, but it’s a 100-year-old building,” he said. “Things were modified that you don’t know about, so they [Clark Construction] had to overcome that.”
Summers went into further detail. “The plans in 1923 show a column over here and it’s not there anymore. By that [the original blueprints] you don’t know what happened to it.”
“So you have to be very careful, and that’s one reason that the initial construction on this site was really done with picks and shovels, because you didn’t really know where everything was. But they’re [Clark Construction] very good at it.”
Summers explained that that tedious process began in 2012 and continued for several months as workers cautiously ascertained the dimensions of the foundation.
In the years since, work has steadily progressed and the museum is now about 50 percent complete.
In what President Summers describes as “one of the great entrances in the world,” the museum will welcome visitors with dramatic 40-foot tall 2 1/2 ton bronze doors depicting text from Genesis 1 of the first edition Gutenberg Bible.
Beyond the doors, centered in the middle of the entrance, will be a glass replica of a Bodmer Papyri displaying Psalm 19, which is written in Greek, and is the oldest complete piece of the Psalm. It is owned by the museum, Summers said.
“So when you walk in, you’re really walking into the Bible.”
Just inside the entrance, visitors can purchase museum tickets, obtain information about the museum, peruse a gift shop and gaze up at a 40-foot tall, 150-foot long, 20-foot wide electronic ceiling “that can change by the second, by the hour,” and will display biblical art and other scenes, Summers told The Christian Post.
The museum’s second floor, known as the Impact floor, explains how the Bible has impacted the world and will feature the Bible in America and Bible Global exhibits.
This level incorporates innovative concepts that are oblivious to visitors, such as a raised floor topped by square-shaped steel plates that easily lift with a gentle tug. Directly beneath are electrical cables that building engineers can access.
“It’s designed so we can pull electrical [cables] throughout the whole museum without having to tear anything up … So you can pull electrical throughout anywhere you want to in the museum. It’s a very interesting system.”