Two blocks south of the National Mall in Washington, DC, a stately brick building with a recessed entrance faces Fourth Street. On either side of the entrance, two bronze doors the height of upended school buses stand adorned with the text of the Gutenberg Bible. They are perhaps the largest-scale homage ever made to the printing plates that brought Scripture into the age of mechanical reproduction, and, as with the original plates, the text on them protrudes backward. It is as though the doors are waiting to come unhitched and fall through a perfect 90-degree arc onto the street, indelibly impressing the city with the Word of God in the Latin of the Vulgate.
Each stacked line of text weighs roughly 380 pounds and was individually affixed to the doors. They don’t close, however; their function is purely decorative, and the recessed entrance plaza remains open year round. Beyond these doors opens an enormous hall paved with marble tiles.
Looking up, a visitor might see a sprawling digital canopy of trees, one of five possible scenes playing on a ceiling-mounted 140-foot-long LED display. The light emitted by the false sky intensifies in surrounding glass walls and polished floors; bystanders are awash in illumination. At the end of the hall, a floating staircase winds up into the air without the aid of steel supports; docents clad in Ancient Near Eastern garb shuffle by to assume stations in the world of the distant past.
The Museum of the Bible is a “compilation of around 40,000 objects, including some of the rarest and most significant biblical texts, objects and artifacts ever assembled under one roof,” according to the Museum of the Bible website.
The History Floor will be home to more than 500 artifacts that tell the story of the Bible’s origins, translation, how it was preserved, and its journey across the globe. Ancient scripts like pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls, Torah scrolls, Cuneiform tablets, and age-old New Testament excerpts will be on display.
The Narrative Floor will focus on the stories and characters of the Bible with presentations and displays of artifacts presented in a way that evokes all the senses. A Los Angeles Firm that creates shows for Knott’s Berry Farm is creating this floor.
The Impact Floor will feature interactive exhibits detailing the influence of the Bible on the arts, culture, science, government, and more. C&G Partners, an award-winning, multi-specialty design studio, is assembling this floor, the most modern of the three areas, and utilizing social media as an educational and interactive platform within the exhibits.
On November 17, Museum of the Bible (MOTB) will open its doors to the public for the first time, claiming to be the most cutting-edge museum in DC.