A Museum of the Bible

Along with being the capital of the United States, Washington, D.C., is one of the country's top cities for museums. Among the top tourist attractions are The National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, and the National Museum of American History—not to mention the American Art Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

All of these museums are operated by the Smithsonian Institution, a federally funded organization, and all have had hundreds of thousands of visitors in the first four months of 2018, with the first three topping one million visitors each.

But a relatively new museum in Washington has garnered special attention in recent months. During its first six months of operation, the Museum of the Bible—a privately funded museum—has had approximately 565,000 visitors since it opened in November 2017.

The Washington Post reported that the Bible museum, unlike many other private museums in the city, offers free admission but suggests visitors make a donation. And while the newspaper explains that "Christian tour groups especially have been drawn to the six-story museum," it's worth noting that the museum doesn't proselytize.

Although its backers—the Green family, who also owns the Hobby Lobby retail chain—hope visitors "would realize that this book is something for them to consider," there isn't a revival tent to be found among the artifacts. As one visitor noted, "[t]he collection showcases the sweeping historical and cultural impact of the Bible across generations."

Some of that cultural impact may seem unusual, such as dresses by the Dolce and Gabbana fashion house or a Bible owned by Elvis Presley. “Secular audiences will be surprised at the influence of the Bible” on many aspects of popular culture, Seth Pollinger, the museum's director of content, told Religion News Service.

Perhaps the thing that will most surprise audiences, however, is the staggering interest that has been shown in a Museum of the Bible from the start. After all, this is a supposedly enlightened age in which many have “moved past” ancient superstitions into a secular philosophy that has all the "real answers."

Yet the Bible remains stunningly popular. According to the American Bible Society's 2018 "State of the Bible" survey, 61 percent of Americans who say they are "engaged" with Scripture on a regular basis also say they need the Bible more than they need coffee "to jumpstart their mornings."

The answer to one of the world's most important questions—is the Bible true?—isn't found in a museum, however.  Click here to watch Pastor Doug Batchelor’s presentation from the Most Important Questions series.


—Written by Mark A. Kellner

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