Washington, D.C., home to over 200 museums featuring objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest, is about to make room for one more — albeit one of a less secular nature: the Museum of the Bible.
Those behind the project plan to open the 430,000-square-foot nonprofit museum on November 17, just two blocks from the National Mall. The Museum of the Bible is largely funded by the Green family, the “bible billionaires” who own Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and craft stores. The museum’s building location and design were announced in 2012 when the Green family purchased a warehouse three blocks south of the Capitol that used to be the Washington Design Center.
Steve Bickley, vice president of marketing for the museum, told Fox News last May that backers expect “to draw in a range of visitors through a blend of historical and religious artifacts and interactive exhibits.”
“The goal is to show and to educate people about the many ways that the Bible has impacted America, not just our history but in terms of civil rights and social justice to fashion,” said Bickley.
From presidential inaugural ceremonies to bedside tables in hotels across the country, the Bible has indeed been a fixture in American life. Bickley says the 430,000-square-foot facility aims to offer an “immersive experience to people from all faiths, or no faith, and those who have never even picked up a Bible.”
The $500 million, eight-story museum is financed entirely by private funds. The force behind the design is the architectural firm, Smith Group, while Clark Construction has overseen the project since its groundbreaking in 2015. Both were involved in the construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the popular site near the Washington Monument.
The museum’s five central exhibit floors will house 40,000 biblical and religious artifacts from around the world, including portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls, bibles once belonging to Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley, and the Lunar Bible – the first bible to travel in space.
The first exhibit to arrive at the museum is a 3,200-pound full-scale replica of the original Liberty Bell, gifted to the museum by Dr. Peter Lillback, founder of the Providence Forum. Because of its size, the replica had to be lowered into the building, which is still undergoing construction.
But it is Steve Green, the museum’s founder and president of Hobby Lobby, and his father, David, who have contributed the bulk of the items.
Over the last five years, the Green Collection has grown into the world’s largest private collection of biblical texts and artifacts.
The Bible Museum has also signed a multi-year agreement with the Israel Antiquities Authority to fill gallery space with objects from Israel’s National Treasures.
Read more at Museum of the Bible Set to Open in D.C. This November.