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The Museum of the Bible is a museum being constructed in Washington D.C. documenting the narrative, history and impact of the Bible. The museum is set to open in November 2017.[2] The Museum Collection claims to have amassed one of the largest assemblies of biblical artifacts and texts in the world through collaborations between private donors, institutions and other museums.[3]

Museum of the Bible
Museum of the Bible.png
Museum of the Bible is located in Central Washington, D.C.
Museum of the Bible
Location within Washington, D.C.
Established 2010 (2010)
Location 409 3rd St SW Washington, D.C., United States[1]
Coordinates 38°53′05″N 77°01′01″W / 38.8847222°N 77.0169444°W / 38.8847222; -77.0169444Coordinates: 38°53′05″N 77°01′01″W / 38.8847222°N 77.0169444°W / 38.8847222; -77.0169444
Type History museum
Collection size 40,000+
Founder Steve Green
Executive director Tony Zeiss
President Cary Summers
Curator David Trobisch
Architect David Greenbaum
Public transit access WMATA Metro Logo.svg                Federal Center SW
Website www.museumofthebible.org

The Museum is non-sectarian, non-political, and claims it will not proselytize.[4] The president of the Museum of the Bible, Cary Summers noted, "Our goal is straightforward: reacquaint the world with the book that helped make it, and let the visitor come to their own conclusions. The Museum of the Bible is a global education institution that invites all people to engage in the Bible. We don’t exist to tell people what to believe about it".[4]

Contents

HistoryEdit

The Bible Museum was established as a nonprofit in 2010.[3] The museum’s building location and design were announced in 2012 when the Green family purchased a warehouse two blocks from the National Mall that used to be the Washington Design Center in Washington, D.C.[5][6] The estimated $400 million project is updating the historically protected structure as well as adding two additional floors and a rooftop café and garden. The building's 1923 original red brick, architecture and ornamentation was restored to original condition, with new brickwork imported from Denmark. The primary building was awarded historical status by the District's Historic Preservation Review Board.[7][8][9][10] The glass-enclosed rooftop will offer views of the United States Capitol, the Washington Monument and several Smithsonian museums. The construction efforts have been led by Clark Construction, a nationally renowned building and renovation firm. Previous projects include the White House Visitors Office and several Smithsonian museums. The architectural design team is led by SmithGroupJJR, whose portfolio also includes several Smithsonian museums as well as the International Spy Museum.[10]

Projected exhibitsEdit

The exhibitions will offer a scholarly perspective on the impact of the Bible in history.[11] Bible scholar David Trobisch director of the museum's collections will advise on new acquisitions, identify the storylines for the museum's exhibits and supervise a team of 30 scholars and curators.[12][13] Indiana Wesleyan University professor Jerry Pattengale will serve as Executive Director of Education Initiatives.[14] The Museum also has an external board of advisors, and works with Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and other religious and secular institutions.[4]

Each of the six floors in the museum will contain a different exhibit which emphasizes different aspects of the Bible's history or impact. This includes three permanent exhibit floors, each measuring 55,000 square feet (5,100 m²).[10] The first floor will combine ancient artifacts with modern technology to immerse the participant in the Bible. The front entrance on 4th Street SW features 40-foot (12 meter) tall, 2.5 ton (2,300 kg) bronze front doors with stained glass art containing a relief depicting the creation account in Genesis.[10][15] There is also a grand lobby with a 200-foot (60 meter) LED ceiling allowing for changing visual effects and messages.[10] The second floor will focus on the Bible's impact on world culture and history. The third level will present the general narrative of the Bible from Abraham through the creation of Israel to the ministry of Jesus and the early church. This floor will also contain a large Jewish Bible section. The fourth floor will present biblical history and archaeology. Trobisch stated that the museum "will not whitewash conflicts in Christian history but will explain the arguments that were made at the time". The fifth level will contain a performing arts theater with a 500-person amphitheater. The museum plans to sponsor scholarly lectures as well as multimedia performances relating to the Bible. The fifth floor will also contain separate exhibit space for displays presented by the Israel Antiquities Authority. Level six will contain rooftop viewing areas overlooking the National Mall and U.S. Capitol, stained glass exhibits and a ballroom that seats 1,000 guests.[3][15][10] The museum's artifact research facility and reference library will be located in a one-story addition to the roof of a neighboring office complex.[10]

Several museum partners are responsible for the design and layout of the various exhibits. The PRD Group is responsible for the history of the Bible floor. PRD Group has previously collaborated on exhibits at Smithsonian National Museum of American History and National Museum of Natural History. BRC Imagination Arts is developing the narrative of the Bible floor. Jonathan Martin Creative will recreate a Nazareth village from the first century. C&G Partners is leading the design of the impact of the Bible floor. Previous work by C&G Partners includes the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.[10]

The museum will contain over 40,000 objects and artifacts from the time of Abraham through the New Testament period. Planned artifacts include biblical papyri, Torah scrolls, rare printed Bibles, Jewish artifacts and contemporary treasures of Christian and Jewish culture.[16] The museum has made arrangements to exhibit significant archaeological artifacts owned by collaborating institutions and private collectors such as the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Louvre.[3][17] The partnership with the Israel Antiquities Authority will allow the museum access to display many of the 2 million artifacts contained in Israel's National Treasure, which will be displayed in a dedicated museum section.[18] Steve Green has donated 13 fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls for exhibition at the museum, along with thousands of other ancient artifacts from his personal collection.[19] Additional initial exhibits include remains from Julia Ward Howe's original manuscript for the famous song "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" as well as a replica of the Liberty Bell upon which is engraved the Bible verse from Leviticus "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof".[20][21]

Roof gardenEdit

The roof of the Museum will feature a Biblical garden.[11][22]

Food servicesEdit

"Equinox" owners and "The Jewish Table" authors Todd and Ellen Gray will operate two establishments in the museum. "Manna" will be an Israeli-Mediterranean street food cafe featuring such biblical foods as flatbread and date honey as well as traditional Jewish foods such as falafel and hummus. "Milk and Honey" will be a 70-seat coffee shop offering cappuccinos, lattes, and teas as well as snacks and sandwiches. The Grays will also provide catering for events at the museum. Many of the food offerings will be certified kosher.[22][23][24]

CriticismEdit

Despite its claims to factuality, the Museum has come under criticism by a few academics, who are wary of the originally-explicit evangelistic purpose of the Museum.[25] While the original purpose statement for the Museum sought to confirm the reliability and authority of the Bible, the newest statements have shifted towards more of an academic presentation of artifacts and versions. The latest (2013) mission statement reads "We exist to invite all people to engage with the Bible. We invite Biblical exploration through museum exhibits and scholarly pursuits."[25]

Concerns have also been raised regarding the provenance of the artifacts in the collection. In response to this issue, the museum appointed David Trobisch, a liberal European scholar, as director of the collection and charged him with displaying transparency and satisfying critics. Using a dozen researchers, Trobisch cataloged the history, authenticity and acquisition of the nearly 40,000 artifacts in the collection. Trobisch says he has "yet to find a questionable piece".[17][26][25]

More recently, the founders of the museum were forced to relinquish thousands of artifacts because they were smuggled out of Iraq via the United Arab Emirates. Notably Hobby Lobby neglected to confirm where the artifacts had been stored. Hobby Lobby was forced to relinquish 5,500 artifacts and to pay a $3 million settlement.[27] The Justice Department discusses archaeological looting in Iraq:

In October 2010, an expert on cultural property law retained by Hobby Lobby warned the company that the acquisition of cultural property likely from Iraq, including cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals, carries a risk that such objects may have been looted from archaeological sites in Iraq. The expert also advised Hobby Lobby to review its collection of antiquities for any objects of Iraqi origin and to verify that their country of origin was properly declared at the time of importation into the United States. The expert warned Hobby Lobby that an improper declaration of country of origin for cultural property could lead to seizure and forfeiture of the artifacts by CBP U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Museum of the Bible responded by noting that they are an entirely separate organization which "was not a party to either the investigation or the settlement." The Museum voluntarily "adheres to the current Association of Art Museum Directors' standards on the Acquisition of Archaeological Material and Ancient Art, as well as guidelines set forth by the American Alliance of Museums" and, further, that "none of the artifacts identified in the settlement are part of the Museum's collection, nor have they ever been."[28]

Scott Thumma, a dean and professor of sociology of religion at Hartford Seminary, defended the Museum of the Bible for the harsh coverage they've received, citing a double standard in the media. "Many of the collections of our great national museums and universities are full of the very objects that Hobby Lobby is being fined for smuggling and are seldom required to return or pay compensation," Thumma is quoted as saying.[29]

External linksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ https://www.museumofthebible.org/contact
  2. ^ "Museum — Main site". Museum of the Bible. Retrieved 25 May 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c d Unruh, Bob (27 Aug 2016). "Bible Museum to let Bible 'speak for itself'.". WND.com. Retrieved 25 Oct 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c "The real Museum of the Bible". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2016-05-03. 
  5. ^ Banks, Adelle M. (July 10, 2012). "Bible museum planned for Washington, D.C.". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  6. ^ Sernovitz, Daniel (July 20, 2012). "Museum makes a divine acquisition". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  7. ^ DPA (13 February 2015). "Private Bible museum to be built in heart of Washington, D.C.". Haaretz. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  8. ^ Cooper, Rebecca (12 February 2015). "Here's the Museum of the Bible's $400M plan for the former Washington Design Center". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Parker, Loanne (28 March 2014). "Which Museums Show Real Promise?". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h "Construction begins on 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible". University of Leicester. 13 Feb 2015. Retrieved 21 Nov 2016. 
  11. ^ a b O'Connell, Jonathan (12 February 2015). "Even non-believers may want to visit the $400 million Museum of the Bible". Washington Post. Retrieved 28 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "Green family Bible museum closer to opening". Baptist Press. 7 March 2014. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (12 September 2014). "Hobby Lobby's Steve Green has big plans for his Bible museum in Washington". Washington Post. Retrieved 29 May 2015. 
  14. ^ "Jerry Pattengale, Ph. D.". Museum of the Bible. Retrieved 25 May 2017. 
  15. ^ a b Porter, Kevin (21 Aug 2016). "Behind-the-scenes tour of Museum of the Bible: 5,000 lb Genesis bronze door, electronic Biblical art ceiling". Christian Post. Retrieved 25 Oct 2016. 
  16. ^ "Museum of the Bible holds "topping out" celebration for D.C. building.". NRB.com. September 22, 2016. Retrieved 21 Nov 2016. 
  17. ^ a b Charney, Noah (4 September 2015). "Critics call it evangelical propaganda. Can the Museum of the Bible convert them?". Washington Post. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Major new alliance with the Israel Antiquities Authority will fill gallery in DC's new Museum of the Bible with ancient artifacts from Israel". 18 Aug 2015. Retrieved 21 Nov 2016. 
  19. ^ Pruitt, Sarah (11 Oct 2016). "Secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls come to light". history.com. Retrieved 21 Nov 2016. 
  20. ^ Porter, Kevin (7 Nov 2016). "Museum of the Bible to display historic 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'.". The Christian Post. Retrieved 21 Nov 2016. 
  21. ^ Mitchell, Andre (19 Aug 2016). "Bible museum in U.S. capital gets Liberty Bell replica as its first display". Christianity Today. Retrieved 21 Nov 2016. 
  22. ^ a b Sheir, Rebecca. "D.C. Bible Museum Will Be Immersive Experience, Organizers Say". NPR. Retrieved 25 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Museum of the Bible Gives Preview in NYC". The Jewish Voice. 9 December 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2015. 
  24. ^ Sidman, Jessica (3 Nov 2016). "Equinox owners will open an Israeli street food cafe in the Museum of the Bible.". Washingtonian. Retrieved 21 Nov 2016. 
  25. ^ a b c Charney, Noah (4 Sep 2015). "Critics call it evangelical propaganda. Can the Museum of the Bible convert them?". Washington Post. Retrieved 20 Dec 2016. 
  26. ^ Moss, Candida (26 Oct 2015). "Feds Investigate Hobby Lobby Boss for Illicit Artifacts". Daily Beast. Retrieved 20 Dec 2016. 
  27. ^ "United States Files Civil Action To Forfeit Thousands Of Ancient Iraqi Artifacts Imported By Hobby Lobby". www.justice.gov. Retrieved 2017-07-06. 
  28. ^ "Hobby Lobby to forfeit Bible artifacts, pay $3M fine". 
  29. ^ "Despite smuggled antiquities purchase, some say criticism of Bible museum is unfair". Religion News Service. Retrieved 2017-08-10.