A Bible museum is a good idea. The one that's opening is not. - 2017-11-17
This Friday, one of the most controversial new museums in recent memory will open to the public: Washington, DC's Museum of the Bible, a gargantuan, 430,000-square-foot, $500 million building just off the National Mall. With six stories' worth of exhibits — from fragments of ancient Near Eastern texts to personal Bibles of major figures in the American civil rights movement — the museum purports to tell the story of the Bible's creation and dissemination, of how stories of one tribe of ancient Israelites, rooted in their place and time, became stories of profound and personal significance for so many.
But will it be successful?
Certainly, the Museum of the Bible's current stated mission — "to invite all people to engage with the Bible" — is a worthy one. Regardless of your faith tradition (or lack thereof), the Bible is an important cultural document, and one whose history and influence should be explored. And there is no other museum of the same scale devoted to any kind of religious history in America.