The name of the new structure that is under construction in Washington DC is the Museum of the Bible. The high-tech, eight-storey museum that spans 430,000 square feet and will likely cost its founder and funder, Steve Green, an estimated $800 million, is set to open in 2017. Museum of the Bible, which is located three blocks from the Air and Space Museum and four blocks from the United States Capitol, will feature exhibits on the history and influence of the Bible as well as several other interactive features that will assist viewers in bringing Biblical stories and characters to life.
For years Green, billionaire victor of the recent Hobby Lobby ruling, has wanted to have this museum built. According to him, religious freedom is a Biblical idea, which is why, for generations, his family of Pentecostals and Baptists has sponsored Biblical archaeology and Bible scholarships as well as the planning of a public school curriculum that promotes the Bible’s historic, artistic and cultural influence on the United States and the world.
“We don’t need more to tell people who and what we are,” said Steve Green.
Green believes the Museum of the Bible is unlike any other evangelical structure in the country because one need not be Christian to drop in for a visit. Believers, skeptics and the “intellectually curious” are all welcome to this museum if they wish to learn more about the Bible just as they would visit a science museum if they wanted to learn about evolution and scientific inventions.
“From the person that knows nothing to the highly scholarly visitor, I think we will have something for everyone. … The Bible can speak for itself, explain itself,” he said.
Green said he has not been deterred by the criticism he has received since the construction of the museum was first announced in 2011.
“Anytime you do anything with the Bible, people respond with emotion — emotion for and against it. That people want to express their love or their hate is not surprising. … There really isn’t a barrier for this book.”
The Green’s collection comprises of over 40,000 items, which makes it the largest agglomeration of rare Biblical artifacts and texts in the world. The first edition of the King James Bible, the earliest known form of the Jewish prayer book and several fragments of the New Testament published on papyrus are among the thousands of artifacts that the Green family have acquired. Museum of the Bible will also house the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, the largest private collection of Jewish Torah scrolls and the largest body of Christian Palestinian Aramaic, the language closest to the one spoken by Jesus Christ.
“In terms of sheer numbers, it's massive,” said John Kutsko, executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta.
Initially, Green intended to have the museum built in Dallas, though he changed his mind after a survey of the 10 largest metropolitans in the United States suggested a religious museum in Washington would attract maximum viewers.
Jonathan Alger, founding partner of C&G Partners, the firm that has designed the brand imagery for the upcoming museum, believes the simple, symbolic and super modern logo, a B set on its side, serves as a lowercase underscored m for museum, an archway, the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the open pages of a book.
“When you are making an identity to reflect a museum about the Bible, it has to be simple and respectful. … Like the Bible, the logo is a vessel for what you pour into it,” he said.
Photo Credits: Religious News Service