At its opening last Friday in Washington, DC, the new Museum of the Bible delivered on its promise to create a museum that would present the Bible in an engaging way to all kinds of people.
Conveniently located two blocks from the National Mall, the new $500 million museum is poised to attract visitors to the city, no matter their denomination or whether they are believers or not.
For one thing, the overall impression one receives from the museum’s exhibits is non-sectarian. Drawing on the expertise of scholars from more than 60 universities and seminaries and an advisory board that includes archaeologists, pastors, priests and rabbis, the museum tells the story of the Bible in a way that a Jew, a Catholic, a Protestant or even a non-believer would find respectful and enlightening.
“Our intent is to engage people with the Bible; we don’t have a Plan B,” said Cary Summers, president of the museum.
“We want to be a comfortable place for people with faith or without faith,” he added.
The real draw, however, might be in the museum’s sheer entertainment value.
“If I put a Bible under glass in a language I don’t understand, it’s only going to engage my attention for so long, said the museum’s chairman and founder of Hobby Lobby craft stores, Steve Green.
“We have to tell this story well,” he added.
Using innovative technology and multi-media exhibits that would be at home at the latest Disney theme park, the museum immerses the visitor in the story of the Bible, engaging the senses and the intellect.
Spanning six floors of the stunningly renovated Washington Design Center warehouse in the southwestern quadrant of the capital, the exhibits are primed to appeal to visitors at different stages of the faith journey.
One can imagine someone with little to no familiarity with the stories of the Bible being struck, on a visceral emotional level, by the dramatic power of the “Stories of the Bible” exhibit.
Visitors stroll through a special effects-enhanced narration of the Old Testament, which tells the story from Creation on. Using high-definition video and sometimes startling sound and light effects, the exhibit brings home the drama of the stories of the Flood, Passover, Exodus, and the Kingdom of Israel.