Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Monday 25 January |
The Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

The Museum of the Bible finds its place alongside the Smithsonian

J-P Mauro - published on 06/19/18

Lines of visitors wrap around the block to explore Washington, D.C.'s newest museum.

The Museum of the Bible, which opened in November, 2017, has proven to be a success, already drawing over 603,000 visitors in the 7 months since its opening. This puts them in direct competition with their Smithsonian counterparts on the National Mall, such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which has seen about 842,000 visitors this year, and the National Air and Space Museum, which is sitting at 648,000.

Cary Summers, president of the Museum of the Bible, commented to the Washington Times about their successful opening:

“Crowd control was the biggest challenge right off the bat. We did not anticipate people wrapping around the block. It was a pleasant surprise, but it did create frustration.”

Click “launch the slideshow” in the image below for an inside look:

The Museum of the Bible is the largest privately funded museum in Washington, D.C. In order to keep the doors open they rely on contributions from nearly 51,000 donors. The largest benefactor is Hobby Lobby, owned by the Green family, who have amassed the largest collection of ancient artifacts in the world, numbering about 40,000. Many of these artifacts are on display in the Museum of the Bible.

The museum is preparing to open a new exhibit next month, “Noblewomen and the Bible,” which will focus on the women of Germany’s House of Stolberg, who amassed a collection of manuscripts and books over the course of 800 years, although some of their stock was ransacked by the Soviets during WWII.

The proximity of the Museum of the Bible to Capitol Hill had caused concern prior to its opening, with some people arguing that its presence might influence Congress. Mr. Summers waved it away and explained that they have faced criticism, it would seem, for criticism’s sake:

“Everywhere we turn we’ve got people wanting to be critical,” he said. “We’ve been criticized that we have too much Jesus. We’ve been criticized that we don’t have enough Jesus. We’ve been criticized that we’re too Jewish, that we’re not Jewish enough. The latest has been that we are not Catholic enough.”

This is not reflective of every visitor’s attitude, however, Summers recounts how he was stopped by a tourist from St. Louis who felt urged to tell him, “I know that along the way there was some criticism, so I just wanted to be a voice  saying, ‘Well done and thank you.’”

In fact, the naysayers appear to be the minority, as exit polls reveal that over 90 perceny of visitors have rated the experience as excellent or good. Summers appears to be content with the work they do, stating, “What we said we would do is exactly what we did do. We’re just showing the Bible.”

Like its Smithsonian counterparts, the Museum of the Bible offers free admission; however, they do request suggested donations of $15 per adult and $10 per child. The museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

BibleCatholic history
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in eight languages: English, French, Arabic, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
Zoe Romanowsky
20-year-old filmmaker wins award for powerful 1-minute film about...
Philip Kosloski
When did Christians start praying the Hail Mary?
Fr. Patrick Briscoe, OP
The 4 Ways to read Scripture every Catholic should know
Cerith Gardiner
Quarterback Philip Rivers' retirement announcement reflects his s...
Cerith Gardiner
Meet the dad who's teaching basic skills on YouTube for kids with...
Philip Kosloski
What are the spiritual works of mercy?
J-P Mauro
Polish statue of Christ found peeking out of a growing tree
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.