A museum housing thousands of years of biblical history and boasting some of the most technologically advanced exhibits in the world is set to open Saturday in Washington, D.C.
The Museum of the Bible, hailed by the Smithsonian Institute as one of 2017’s “must-see” museums, will open to the public just two blocks away from the National Mall. The museum boasts six floors of artifacts and displays everything from Babylonian cuneiform tablets to some of the last surviving copies of the first Bibles printed in America. Museum leaders say the exhibits are so large, it would take the average person nine eight-hour days to see it all.
Museum leadership held a press briefing Tuesday to explain the goal of the new museum and to dissuade fears that the museum was a front for Protestant proselytizing.
“We do not advocate for any one specific faith tradition, we just simply advocate for the Bible, its history, its narrative, and its impact,” Dr. Tony Zeiss, the museum’s executive director, said at the briefing.
More than 100 scholars of various fields have come together to review and contribute to the displays in the main exhibits, some of which will be part of permanent displays while other objects will come through the museum as part of rotating exhibits.
Museum antiquities curator Susan Jones told The Daily Caller News Foundation that some of the artifacts featured in the Israeli Antiquities Authority exhibit had not only never been on loan, but had also never even been displayed in Israel.
An observation laboratory will be open on the fourth floor for visitors to view archaeologists and other scholars working in real time to unlock the mysteries hidden within the writings and ancient objects that come through the museum. The museum will also feature an official Israeli scribe who will be writing a Torah in the midst of the exhibits while answering visitors’ questions.
“To some extent, in order to be culturally literate you have to know something about the Bible,” Jones told TheDCNF, explaining that the scriptures, and the history around them, have played an enormous role in the shaping of Western culture.
“Studying the past I think is important for the present. Every part of the past too,” Jones added.
Steve Green, museum founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, and his family began collecting artifacts in 2009 and established the museum nonprofit in 2012. Both the Greens and the museum came under heavy scrutiny after Hobby Lobby was forced to pay $300 million in fines for illegally importing illicit Iraqi artifacts. Green stressed, however, that the artifacts for which Hobby Lobby was fined were not the same as those used in the curation of the museum, as the museum was a separate endeavor.
“The items we have donated have not been in question there,” Green told reporters at the Tuesday briefing.
Zeiss said that he hopes people of all backgrounds will feel welcome to come to the museum, despite the early rumors concerning the curation of the artifacts and what he and Green say are unfounded concerns of sectarian motivations.
“We want our people who come here to go away with two takeaways,” Zeiss said, “and the first one is ‘Wow. That’s the most incredible museum I’ve ever visited. And two, ‘Maybe there’s something about this Bible, this book. Maybe we should get a little more engaged in it.’”