A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend the grand opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. I went not really knowing what to expect, but was quite impressed with the Museum of the Bible, so here are my thoughts and insights for your next trip to Washington DC.
(Note: I was invited to a media event at the Museum of the Bible. While I was given lunch, I received no compensation from the Museum of the Bible. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)
Museum of the Bible
When you enter the museum, your eyes are immediately drawn upward to the ever changing, digital ceiling. The foyer is wide open, and you may notice that the tiles shift from black to white tiles leading to a large staircase. The shift in tiles is supposed to represent darkness to light with the staircase representing the stairway to heaven. There are six levels to the museum. While the staircase is beautiful, the elevators are an experience in and of themselves. As you ride in them, you are transported with scenes from the Holy Land.
The second floor shows the impact the Bible has made on our society and history through political movements and pop cultural references. This exhibit is full of multimedia representations where you will see actors reenact pivotal historical figures. The BibleNow area displays how the Bible is currently impacting visitors in this constantly updating live-feed.
On the third floor, explore the town of Nazareth as it would have been at the time Jesus was growing up there. This was my favorite part of the museum, because the buildings and scenery really bring the time period to life.
Also, Level 3 gives a brief overview of the Hebrew Bible…like the cliff notes version. Because the Museum of the Bible doesn’t want to offend anyone, they really skim over the history of Abraham with Ishmael and Isaac, but I loved the visual ways they walk viewers through the Bible. Be prepared to witness the burning bush and walk through the Red Sea like the Israelites. It’s a 45-minute experience unlike any other.
The fourth floor shows the history of the Bible with different translations and variations. It was amazing to see how the Bible has been transformed over the years. It’s also sobering to realize how people fought and were persecuted so that we can have access to the ancient texts.
On the fifth floor, the world stage theatre is a 472-seat theater that will showcase live-action Biblical narratives. When I visited, the theater was playing Amazing Grace, but all seats were sold out.
This floor also includes an exhibit of Israel Antiquities and an Art of the Gospel exhibit.
The Manna Restaurant which provides a variety of Middle Eastern Fusion Cuisine, like falafels served over grits from Chef Todd Grey. On my visit, I had a sampling of the menu, and everything was delicious!
- The Museum of the Bible aims to be nonsectarian (open to all people), which I think is a mistake. The Board of Directors for the museum say that they want the museum to be a place for people of all faiths. However, the museum makes it also clear that Jesus is the Son of God, so people of the Jewish and Muslim faiths are not going to want to visit this museum.
- The children’s area can seem a little cheesy and make light of some big biblical stories.
- The Museum of the Bible also aims to be the most technologically advanced museum in the world, which means they spent a ton of money on electronics. The elevator rides that transport you to Israel are amazing, but giving visitors iPads to help them tour the museum will probably be more cumbersome than helpful. I would have suggested really investing in a Museum of the Bible app that visitors could download if they want.
- Another technological marvel is the security line. The x-ray machines are more impressive than anything you’ve seen TSA use at the airport, but I know that also comes with a hefty price tag. As a museum that receives no federal funding and asks for donations, I think there could have been some more budget friendly decisions.
Overall, I enjoyed my day at the Museum of the Bible immensely, and I really wasn’t planning on it. For Christians planning a trip to DC, I would recommend adding it to your itinerary. It has some cheesy elements, but it is also an excellent well-curated museum.
Have you been to the Museum of the Bible? Share your thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to Pin!