Washington, D.C. is ready to host the Museum of the Bible starting in 2017.
The People’s Pundit Daily is reporting that after a tough search for its location, Washington, D.C., was chosen over Dallas, Texas, due to the new library’s proximity to the National Mall (two blocks), the Capitol building (three blocks), and to other places of interest, such as the Smithsonian and the Air and Space Museum. With the nation’s capitol being busy, putting the $430,000 nonprofit museum there makes more sense.
Steve Green, the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, is now the founder and Chairman of the Board at the upcoming Museum of the Bible.
Mr. Green first planned to open the museum in Dallas, Texas, but ultimately decided the nation’s capitol would draw more visitors hoping to gaze at exhibits created with “cutting-edge technology to bring the Bible to life. It will span time, space, and cultures, inviting everyone to engage with the Bible.” The museum will have three permanent sections and plenty of space for temporary exhibits, and the goal is to ensure returning visitors will always have something new to observe.
At the heart of the museum’s collection will be the personal, renowned Green family collection, which has been gathered over the last five years and has now become one of the world’s largest private collections of rare biblical texts, objects, and artifacts. The Green family collection totals over 40,000 artifacts and object, including cuneiform tablets dating from the time of Abraham, Dead Sea Scroll fragments, first editions of the King James Bible, multiple unpublished New Testament fragments on papyrus, and several of the earliest known Jewish prayer books.
“I think it will be extremely engaging and interactive,” Green told reporters. “We want to help tell that story so that it will be exciting for everyone that comes.”
The Huffington Post, however, is concerned that Green’s Museum will have a very narrow interpretation of the Bible.
Scholars are concerned that the museum will feature only a Protestant interpretation of the Bible in its areas devoted to the book’s impact and narrative.
Scholars have vastly different interpretations of everything in the Bible, said John Kutsko, executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta. There are different versions of the text used in Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox services, as well as secular versions, he noted.
“What we hope it can accomplish in name, in purpose and in plan, is that it is a Museum of the Bibles, plural,” Kutsko said.
“In terms of sheer numbers, it’s massive,” he said of the collection.
The Green family did send out a small amount of their collection on display earlier this year, called Passages, which included a “special Noah’s Ark experience” for children, and holograms and video screens that re-enact historical scenes related to the Bible, according to the show’s website.
Rachel Lindsey, associate director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis, called Passages “absolutely Protestant” in its view of the Bible’s accessibility and openness to interpretation.
But she said the Museum of the Bible could open up discussion about how the text has been adopted over the centuries by a wide range of people and movements.
“There’s an opportunity for the museum to really expose the multiplicity of the Bible in American history,” Lindsey said.
[Images courtesy of People’s Pundit Daily via Museum of the Bible]