Read the adventurous story of the creation and building of the world’s first museum dedicated solely to one book—the Bible. Drawing on detailed firsthand accounts, Lifting Up the Bible brings the Museum’s creation to life, retelling the full background of the Museum, including the colorful stories of the Museum’s characters, concept, collection, and construction. It may be hard to believe an old refrigeration warehouse built in 1923 could be transformed into a museum, let alone one that includes such priceless artifacts, amazing displays, incredible architecture, and state of the art technology. The mueseum began as a simple idea in the minds of a handful of people. Soon it was reaching out and capturing others—bringing more and more partners to the table. There was brainstorming followed by sketches. Innovation followed by clarification. Focus followed by concrete plans. And, finally, the moment to go for it. To take that first giant, collective step, trusting that everything would fall into place. The museum is for every single person who desires to learn more about the amazing document that is the Bible. The largest single museum under one roof in Washington D.C., and the first in the world to focus on honoring the Bible, the Museum of the Bible provides guests with an immersive and personalized experience as they see the Bible in a whole new light.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.90(d)|
Read an Excerpt
IN THE BEGINNING
"Who taught those ancient writers their simplicity of language ... of sinking themselves entirely out of sight of the reader and making the narrative stand out alone and seem to tell itself? Shakespeare is always present when one reads his book; Macaulay is present when we follow the march of his stately sentences; but the Old Testament writers are hidden from view."
— Mark Twain
We've got a bit of a problem."
The call came from Brian Flegel, officer in charge for Clark Construction. It wasn't welcome. With a job this big, this multilayered, we'd been fielding challenges from day one. We'd managed to solve each issue that arose and stay on schedule, but this might be the one that broke our winning streak.
"What's the problem?" we asked.
"Well, looks like we hit some water."
That was unexpected. None of the city plans or plats made any mention of water on or under our site.
"Are you sure?"
"One of the crews digging down below has water in their hole. They've had to stop work."
Stop work. A phrase that struck fear into the hearts of anyone involved in construction and product development. A group of us scrambled to investigate, descending until we reached the cavernous basement two floors below ground. Brian met us there.
"Water's coming in over here." He led us to one of the giant pits being dug to place new underpinnings for the building above us, and we surveyed the damage. Any hope he might have overstated the problem vanished. There was definitely water in front of us — an actual stream, in fact.
"Well, where'd that come from?" asked a puzzled Harry Hargrave, president of HMH Capital and the man who'd helped us find this building. "Did we hit a main?"
Brian hesitated. "We're not really sure. For all we know, we hit the river."
Believe it or not, it's not as hard as you'd think to hit a river in Washington, DC. Standing so close to the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers, there is water to be found in, around, and even under the city. In fact, back when George Washington chose the site upon which to found the capital, the land contained a number of streams and tributaries, swamplands and tidal flats. While much was drained or rerouted, vestiges remain.
As David Greenbaum, chief architect on the entire Museum of the Bible project, later pointed out, "Washington, DC, sits in water. You spend a lot of money dealing with it here. The National Museum of African American History and Culture, which we also designed, actually sits in a tub of water."
Out on the streets and sidewalks, the public went its merry way without paying any attention to what flowed under the concrete at their feet. But that day, digging far below them, our crew had hit the water table. It might not be uncommon for the area, but it could potentially wreak havoc on our schedule — which would naturally affect the budget.
The question now was how to stop the flow of water and allow our crews to keep working. Moving a subterranean river was out of the question. So was pouring a ton of concrete into the hole to try and seal it. What was the solution? More important, how could we take care of the situation while maintaining that all-important schedule?
As you can imagine, there was a fair amount of discussion. Plugging an unknown water source was a bit of a head-scratcher for everyone involved, and there were not a lot of viable answers being tossed onto the table. More than one of us likely wished it had been a water main we'd hit. At least then we'd have a concrete plan of action.
In the end, we put everything on hold and called in some specialists. While we anxiously waited, an environmental engineering firm was brought in to assess the situation and offer solutions. After surveying the site, doing some tests, and taking samples, they came back to us.
"It's definitely a stream. We're not sure where it came from. Probably rerouted from another site."
Great. What did that mean for us?
In the Bible, during the Exodus across the arid wilderness, the Hebrews found themselves in desperate need of water. They argued with Moses, blaming him for their peril. The Bible says God instructed Moses to strike a rock with his staff. When he did so, water came flowing out in an unending stream. The place was called Meribah: the place of quarreling.
Allen Quine, the museum's VP of International Relations related that our situation was the opposite of Meribah. "We needed God to stop the water! They looked for a solution without quarreling; no blaming."
Thankfully, the engineering firm had a solution: get the necessary permits, build a storm drain, install a sump pump. Water gone, problem solved.
Easier said than done. To the drawing table we went, pulling together everyone's schedules. On a job of this magnitude there were many people and plans. Could we manage the fix without ruining our timeline?
Again, the specialists had a solution: adjust and stagger the crews. If we slowed down one crew and accelerated those on other projects, we wouldn't have to shut down everything and spend precious days fixing the water issue. Instead, everyone could continue working while a team simultaneously took on the job of stopping the flow of water. When they finished, everyone could readjust their schedules and get the foundations for the new building safely built on time.
So that's what we did. Carefully shifting focus, reallocating manpower, timing things to the day and even hour, we went to work on the situation — and fixed it. The water disappeared back to wherever water goes under the city, and we moved on. Crisis averted. Yes, the changes to the schedule and the flow of work rippled throughout the building site, affecting everyone in some way or another. But in the end what had seemed a crippling problem proved to be a minor hiccup in the overall project.
Of course, as previously mentioned, this was just one of a thousand challenges we worked through, starting from day one. Building a museum requires an enormous amount of time, energy, and creativity. Untold hours go into planning and implementation. Trouble-shooting is key, and constant.
Not only that, but hundreds — even thousands — of people must work together. To succeed, to handle the incredible strain such a project puts on everyone, requires they all share one critical trait: they must buy into the vision of what they're creating.
Every museum that exists in downtown Washington, DC — and in every city around the world, for that matter — began as a dream. Much like an invention, the single idea of a Bible museum germinated and grew in the minds of a handful of people. Soon it was reaching out and capturing others — bringing more and more partners to the table. There was brainstorming followed by sketches. Innovation followed by clarification. Focus followed by concrete plans. And, finally, the moment to go for it. To take that first giant, collective step, trusting that everything would fall into place.
It began with an idea.
Several years ago, a small group of business associates — collectors and curators — came up with the idea of establishing a museum in Dallas, Texas, focused on the Bible. There were several other Bible museums around the country, but they felt they could accomplish something different than the others, something worthwhile.
Excited about their prospects, they looked for a suitable building in the city or surrounding suburbs — a space that could be converted into everything a museum would need. But after several years of searching and reviewing and visiting possible locations, they were no closer to their dream than when they started.
Museums need to be big. They require wide-open space and tall ceilings and a floorplan that offers a good flow for foot traffic. They must have layout options for various and changing exhibits and must be located in a place that encourages many visitors. In other words, hunting for museum real estate is a very selective process.
Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, was one person who had shown initial interest in helping purchase a building for a Bible museum. After a long search for property in Dallas, though, the odds of finding a suitable building grew very thin.
The Green family did see the benefit of creating a traveling exhibit using the artifacts that had been purchased, donated, and even borrowed, with the hopes of one day having a permanent home for them in a museum.
"As I came to understand the vision for an actual museum," Steve Green said, "I was intrigued. I'd never had any plans to get involved in a museum, but the idea was an interesting one."
His wife, Jackie, and the entire Green family loved the idea. They became excited at the opportunities it presented. As they talked it through, asking one other how they might help, their enthusiasm grew. One thing they didn't need to discuss was if they were going to be involved.
"We just jumped," Jackie said with a laugh. "We didn't know what would come next. We never dreamed it would become so big. We were busy with six kids, our business, teaching Sunday school, and so much more. But we knew we wanted to be a part of this story."
And with that, the Greens were firmly on board. In many ways, their involvement was the tipping point in the germination of the eventual museum. Steve's day-to-day job as president of Hobby Lobby involved real estate development, and he was known for getting a job done, especially with Jackie partnering with him. Their children were mostly grown, which also freed up time to focus on this endeavor. Besides, as a family they always had a passion for the Bible, and the idea of a museum dedicated to the Book of books was exciting to them. They were willing to put their time and funds toward its success.
"Tell us what we can do," they said.
Around that time, word came to them about an artifact in Turkey. It was a centuries-old copy of the book of John on purple vellum (calf-skin leather) with gold lettering. Those were rare characteristics for something created during that time, so such a costly piece would have likely been commissioned for royalty.
The asking price seemed reasonable, and there was no doubt the piece would make an amazing addition to the future Bible museum. So Steve and a small group traveled to Turkey to look at it, verify its authenticity, and perhaps purchase it. Unfortunately, after arriving in Istanbul, they discovered that the family who owned the artifact was divided on whether to sell it or keep it. Either way, the deal fell through.
The Greens were disappointed, of course. But the experience opened them up to an idea: what if they headed up the task of buying artifacts that were well suited for the future Bible museum? They and others realized that once a suitable building was found, they would need a lot of exhibits to fill it. The Greens were prepared to assist in that regard.
The plan was enthusiastically adopted. So, as the rest of the team continued to search for a building site, the Greens began to put the word out that they were seeking artifacts.
Not surprisingly, as soon as they started looking, numerous items became available.
One of the first stops was Sotheby's in London, a highly respected company that has been in the auction business since 1744. With a few biblical items up for sale, one available item in particular had failed to get its asking: a collection of documents from Westminster College in Cambridge called the Codex Climaci Rescriptus. The college, which was looking to expand its campus and thus needed ready cash, had already studied the documents and no longer needed to hold on to them. They were willing to sell for the right price.
The Codex Climaci Rescriptus includes portions of the New Testament in Greek and the Old and New Testaments written in Aramaic, plus other items of interest to that time period. The word rescriptus means a document has been written on more than once. Because of the difficulty in acquiring writing materials in ancient days, when a document was no longer needed, the ink was rubbed out and new text was written over the old. It was the ancient equivalent of recycling.
In the case of the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, parts of the current text dates back as far as the sixth century. But in September of 2014, through the use of multi-spectrum imaging (MSI), scholars and researchers discovered the codex also contained underwritings of early texts from the Greek poet Aratus (315–240 BC) and Eratosthenes (276–194 BC), who was a Greek mathematician (he was the first to calculate the circumference of the Earth), geographer (he created the first map of the world), astronomer, and eventual chief librarian of the renowned Library of Alexandria. A priceless find!
What's more, the pages written in early Aramaic constitute the world's largest known quantity of that language, which is the language and dialect of Jesus' home language.
In other words, this piece would make a superb addition to a future museum. So in 2010 the Green family purchased it and began what would become the world-renowned Green Collection. The quest for artifacts had officially begun, and now pressure grew to find a home for all the pieces they were acquiring. Significant and important items sat ready for display, but the location search for a museum was not going very well. In fact, the rest of the team had reached the point of admitting at least a temporary defeat. Despite their best efforts, no suitable building could be found in Dallas. Plans for a Bible museum would have to be put on hold.
It was around this time that the Greens' role in the whole adventure began to morph. As Jackie often explains, "We were helping others, and it grew, and over time we realized we needed to step in and help more. We certainly had no intention to do this, but we realized we needed to be good stewards of what we had already collected."
After all, the artifacts in the growing collection were hundreds and sometimes even thousands of years old. They needed a safe location — a clean, climate-controlled environment. More than that, they deserved to be studied by the best and brightest minds. Ultimately, they also needed to be accessible to the general public.
"We aren't collectors, we're storytellers," Steve is fond of saying. But to tell a story, they would need a venue.
In short, it was time to do more — much more. These pieces of history deserved it. But what did one do with a homeless collection of artifacts that, for the most part, all pertained to the Bible in some way?
The seriousness of the matter began to weigh on everyone involved. They felt responsible for what they had and were willing to play a part in offering it to the world. But how? And where? No master design existed, so the few people involved in the collection put their heads together to create one. The brief list looked something like this:
We have thousands of artifacts in storage.
Those artifacts deserve to be studied.
Those artifacts need to be put on display.
We need to build a Bible museum, not merely purchase a building.
The team began to realize that if they were to do things right, to give the artifacts the home they deserved, it would likely take years to bring it to fruition. The amount of work involved in adequately accomplishing what was on the table was staggering.
Was everyone still committed?
They were. So they took a breath and sketched out some detailed action steps.
First on the list was dealing with the artifacts in terms of their historical value. The need for curators and scholars was evident. Trained personnel — including those from universities around the world — could assist in the research, study, and discovery process, as well as cataloging the thousands of pieces already acquired. They needed the data to properly decide which artifacts would be focal to future displays, and which ones might be used as backups.
Of course, once the research process was under way, they'd be back to the quandary of where to display the collection for the public. Knowing a permanent museum would be several years in the future, their immediate concern was to discuss other options.
They sat back and looked at each other. And then an idea was tossed out: "What if we created traveling installations that would allow people to see, enjoy, and learn about some of these amazing artifacts?" At this point, in September 2010, the not-for-profit organization called Museum of the Bible was formed.
Everyone pondered the possibility. Could it be done? What would a traveling collection require? Artifacts? Funding? Space to house the exhibits? Marketing? The newly established organization would work on that, make calls, network, set things up.
The original vision of a permanent museum focusing on the Bible continued to move forward and explore a possible location in Dallas or other cities. So they widened their circle, and third-party experts were called in to help find the best city for a permanant location, simultaneous with launching the traveling museum.
Excerpted from "Lifting Up the Bible"
Copyright © 2017 Museum of the Bible, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Part 1 A Vision Is Born
1 In the Beginning 3
2 Traveling the World 17
3 The Scholars Initiative 31
4 Reaching the Minds of Tomorrow 43
5 Finally Home 55
Part 2 Making It Happen
6 Building the Dream Team 67
7 And We're Off! 85
8 Preservation and Innovation 99
9 Heading toward Completion 107
10 Making the Dream a Reality 119
Part 3 Welcome to Museum of the Bible
11 Level 1: Ground Floor 137
12 Level 2: Impact Floor 145
13 Level 3: Narrative Floor 153
14 Level 4: History Floor 161
15 Level 5: World Stage Theater and International Galleries 167
16 Level 6: The Ballroom, Restaurant, and Beyond 173
17 Lower Level: Showroom 181
For the People and By the People 191