On Saturday, the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC will open its doors to the public, exploring the greatest book ever written and featuring a hands-on exhibit intended to connect the visitors physically with the Holy Land.
The museum partnered with the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA) to bring approximately 800 artifacts from Israel to the U.S. This was the first time the IAA has created a permanent exhibit of archeological pieces outside of Israel. Perhaps the most impressive is an enormous stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Visitors to the museum are encouraged to connect with the holiest city in the world by touching the stone.
“We have actually a label [that says] ‘Touch Me’ because we think people would like to see and feel the connection between being in the States and touching a stone from Jerusalem from the first century BC,” IAA curator Debora Ben Ami told CBN News.
When asked about the daunting, seeming impossible feat of bringing such so many precious antiquities, including the one-ton stone, from the Holy Land to America’s capital, Ben Ami was equanimical.
“We have a special crate and we get it in a plane and [it] is sometimes challenging to put in place but they have now a new and nice place to be. It’s difficult but not impossible,” she said.
“The idea of the exhibition is to show the archaeology of Israel and history in the times of the Bible, in the times of the Old Testament and the New Testament, showing the people of the Land,” said Ben Ami.
“This is the name of the exhibition—the People of the Land, showing the different cultures of the Land from the Canaanites, Philistines, Israelites, Edomites, Second Temple Period, Byzantine Times,” she added.
The Western Wall stone is only one of the impressive aspects of the 430,000-square-foot building with a view of the U.S. Capitol. Visitors enter the museum via two 40-foot brass replicas of the Book of Genesis as it appeared in the Gutenberg Bible. Inside, they will find a glass vestibule featuring an artistic rendering of Psalm 19, inspired by the Bodmer Papyri fragment that is one of the oldest artifacts in the museum’s collection.
The heavens declare the glory of Hashem, the sky proclaims His handiwork. Psalms 19:2
The museum also contains a room full of Bibles, color-coded to show the more than 2,000 languages into which the holy book has been at least partially translated.
The Museum of the Bible documents the narrative, history and impact of the Bible.The Museum Collection, estimated to have cost $500 million, claims to have amassed one of the largest assemblies of biblical artifacts and texts in the world.The Museum is non-sectarian, non-political, and says it will not proselytize.
The president of the museum, Cary Summers, explained in an 2016 editorial in the Times of Israel, “Our goal is straightforward: reacquaint the world with the book that helped make it, and let the visitor come to their own conclusions. The Museum of the Bible is a global education institution that invites all people to engage in the Bible. We don’t exist to tell people what to believe about it.”