WASHINGTON — The main entrance is to be flanked by two large bronze panels lettered with passages from ancient manuscripts.

On the roof will be a “Biblical garden,” filled with plant species that were around at the dawn of Christianity.

A newly built wing will be clad in layers of handmade bricks from Denmark, meant to evoke the layers of history as they were recorded.

When it opens in late 2017, just about every aspect of the planned Museum of the Bible – the building materials, doorways and common areas – is intended to bring to mind the Holy Land or stories from the Bible itself.

Hobby Lobby president Steven Green, in search of a home for his museum, purchased the building for $50 million in 2012. Green says he plans to house more than 44,000 Biblical texts and artifacts here, including early Bibles of Martin Luther and a 1631 version of the King James Bible.

Located a few blocks from the Capitol and the National Mall, the 430,000-square-foot building is also to include 20,000 square feet for a library and academic research center.


At a Thursday news conference, nearly a dozen television cameras were running as a demolition crew punched holes in the wall of the brick warehouse dating from 1923 that will later connect to a newly built wing. Immediately next door are the offices of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Many of reporters’ questions for Green were about whether the purpose of the museum was to convince others to adopt Christianity or the teachings of the Bible. Green said the museum will focus on the Bible’s impact, history and its narrative. He put the mission this way:

“We would like to invite all people to come and learn about the book that has impacted all of our world. So our desire is to engage all people. It’s a book that’s had a huge impact. It’s been controversial. It’s been loved. It’s been hated. We just think people ought to know about it.”

But does he hope the museum brings other people to Christianity?

“We would hope people would consider what the book has to say and that’s a choice that they make and if it’s compelling that’s a choice that they can make on their own. But we believe that it’s something that everybody ought to consider,” Green said.

Does Green picture the museum as an agent for cultural change?


“As the museum directs people to the book and people are more engaged with the book, we believe that is a possibility,” he said.

Will the museum advance creationism?

“We’re not discussing a lot of particulars of the book. It’s more of a high-level discussion of here’s this book, what is its history and impact and what is its story. That is not necessarily a discussion for our museum to go to,” he said.

For those interested in learning more, come 2017 patrons will be able to tour the museum using electronic hand-held devices to serve as tour guides. Lunch and snacks will be served in what was described as a “throwback cafe.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.