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Hebrew Bible Walk-Through Exhibit

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Step Back into Biblical Times

The Museum of the Bible has something for everyone – nerd or novice

Article by Mary Ellin Arch

Photography by Museum of the Bible. © Museum of the Bible, 2016

Originally published in Midlothian Lifestyle

Bible nerds, if you haven’t yet seen Washington, D.C.’s, Museum of the Bible, it’s time you made the trip. And if your working knowledge of the best-selling book of all time* isn’t geek-like but you’ve wanted to learn more – without committing to reading the approximately 1,200 pages that make up the average Bible – the museum also is for you.

Nerds like me will marvel over such exhibits as the room filled with Bible translations in an array of worldwide languages. (The museum has in its collection the Book of Isaiah in Mohawk, among other esoteric versions.) Those less versed in the Good Book can see Bible stories come to life by strolling through displays such as the World of Jesus of Nazareth, a re-creation of Christ’s humble Galilean hometown.

In short, there’s something for everyone.

The six-story, 430,000-square-foot museum opened in late 2017, its mission (as noted on the museum website) to serve as a “global, innovative educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the transformative power of the Bible.” In addition to permanent and temporary displays and traveling exhibits that have gone to various American cities as well as the Vatican, Jerusalem, and Cuba, the museum supports academic research around the world, including the educational Tel Shimron Excavation in northern Israel (telshimronexcavations.com).

On the must-see list, gleaned from my visit with a fellow Bible nerd over the summer:

  • The Hebrew Bible, a walk-through display with visual depictions of Noah’s Ark, the parting of the Red Sea, and other biblical milestones.
  • The film in the New Testament Theater and the Drive-Through History of the Bible film (in the theater of the same name) – both run 12 minutes and provide overviews of key scriptural elements. On my weekday visit, lines were very short; expect more of a wait on weekends.
  • The Children’s Experience on the first floor and the nearby museum shop, which carries a nice selection of children’s Bible storybooks and an array of plush Noah’s Ark animals.

Other highlights: the exhibit of the Israel Antiquities Authority, with artifacts including Roman coins, first-century household items and elaborately carved storage trunks, and any temporary exhibit. The Shroud of Turin informational display was wrapping up last summer; on tap now is “The Samaritans: A Biblical People,” through Jan. 1 (making it a great winter break day trip).

Don’t miss the top floor with its wall of windows offering a commanding view of the District of Columbia skyline. On the same floor you can lunch at the Manna Restaurant and, if the weather complies, relax in the Biblical Garden, a rooftop green space.

Note to Jewish visitors: Expect occasional references to Jesus even in exhibits you think might not mention him, such as the Israel Antiquities Authority (a brief mention in a video within the exhibit).

The museum is an easy day trip from Richmond, and even easier if, like my friend and I, you skip the Interstate 95 traffic and take the train. We boarded at 7 a.m. at Staples Mill and got into Union Station shortly before the museum opened at 10. It’s just 1.2 miles to the museum from there, so you can skip the Metro, and there are views of the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument along your walking route. To maximize your time, take the early evening train back, which brings you home a little after 9 p.m. One day is enough to see pretty much everything if you proceed steadily through the exhibits; with kids, or if you like to take your time, plan your must-see stops before you begin.

museumofthebible.org

  • Gutenberg Printing Press Exhibit
  • Hebrew Bible Walk-Through Exhibit
  • Nazareth Exhibit
  • Parting of the Red Sea
  • The Rainbow Room