“This is not your grandmother’s museum,” Pastor Rick Warren said at an event to preview the upcoming Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. One look at the blueprints for the ambitious six-story gallery justifies his description.
The Museum of the Bible will give the Holy Book some prime real estate in the nation’s capital come fall 2017. The museum’s director of community relations, Shannon Bennett, offered me a tour of the construction site in April and filled me in on how the innovative designs will come to life. In a separate conversation with the museum’s president, Cary Summers, I learned how the site’s historical offerings and technological advances will attract all generations.
Steve Green, the Christian CEO of Hobby Lobby, conceived the idea for a Bible museum in 2009. He founded a museum board and soon amassed an impressive collection of biblical artifacts. For five years, the organization took those treasures on the road in traveling exhibits both in America and around the world.
“We didn’t want to wait until the site was built to show people,” Bennett explained.
Visitors were intrigued, spending an average of four and a half hours learning and studying the collection.
After the success of the traveling exhibits, the result is a massive structure just off the National Mall.
As of today, Museum Of the Bible has acquired over 42,000 artifacts and is ready for a permanent home. The museum will feature items from the time of Abraham until the present, including 1st edition Bibles, fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a handwritten letter from Thomas Jefferson about the relationship between church and state.
Asked to choose a favorite artifact, Summers, the museum’s president, hesitated.
“That’s like having 20 kids and trying to pick which one’s the favorite,” he said.
But, he is confident that the collection will fascinate people of all ages.
“It will attract people who have no faith, faith in various traditions,” Summers said. “Our approach is to present the Bible and allow people to draw their own conclusions. We think well over 100 countries will be visiting every year so we have to make it very interactive.”
The museum covers a space of 430,000 square feet and none of it goes to waste.
“It’s bigger than the Air and Space museum in size,” Summers explained. “It’s difficult to grasp the size it. There’s no dead space. I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.”
The main entrance, Bennett pointed out to me, will display text from Genesis 1 in the Gutenberg Bible. On the side of the door will be passages from Psalm 19.
The inside will be just as impressive.
Read more at Coming Soon: DC’s Innovative Museum of the Bible.