A new-tech take on the an­cient

The Mu­seum of the Bi­ble set to open in D.C. this fall.

The Washington Post Sunday - - ARTS & STYLE - BY PEGGY MCGLONE peggy.mcglone@wash­post.com

With a sub­ject sa­cred and cen­tral to di­verse faiths, the Mu­seum of the Bi­ble aims to ap­peal to re­li­gions of all kinds, and to those who don’t be­lieve in any.

Washington’s new­est mu­seum — set to open Nov. 17 in a 430,000-square-foot build­ing a few blocks south of the Mall — will be chock-full of ar­ti­facts and ex­hi­bi­tions fo­cused on the Bi­ble’s long his­tory and so­cial im­pact. It will also sport high-tech ac­tiv­i­ties and dis­plays that will con­nect the an­cient text to con­tem­po­rary life in fun and en­gag­ing ways.

The mu­seum, which is the $500 mil­lion brain­child of Hobby Lobby chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Green, will show­case some of the rarest of bib­li­cal tests — from To­rah scrolls to 14th-cen­tury il­lu­mi­nated manuscripts — along­side an amuse­ment-park-like ride called Washington Destina- tions that takes vis­i­tors on a vir­tual aerial tour of Washington sites and an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence of Je­sus’ Nazareth. There will be a chil­dren’s area em­pha­siz­ing courage, and an en­tire floor ded­i­cated to Bi­ble sto­ries.

The mu­seum takes a high- tech ap­proach to the vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, of­fer­ing cus­tom tours tai­lored to both time and in­ter­est. Guests re­ceive dig­i­tal guides that are con­nected to ev­ery gallery on the three main ex­hi­bi­tion floors. As vis­i­tors ap­proach a gallery or ar­ti­fact, in­for­ma­tion or an ac­tiv­ity is trig­gered on their de­vices. Sta­teof-the-art video, aug­mented re­al­ity and in­ter­ac­tive dis­plays com­ple­ment the his­toric and tex­tual ar­ti­facts.

The mu­seum has a re­search arm that sup­ports schol­ars from aca­demic in­sti­tu­tions around the world. Its ed­u­ca­tional depart­ment is de­vel­op­ing cur­ricu­lums for schools, in­clud­ing pub­lic schools in Is­rael.

A non­profit cor­po­ra­tion founded in 2010, the mu­seum has ren­o­vated the for­mer Washington De­sign Cen­ter. The project has meant de­mol­ish­ing the in­te­rior, low­er­ing the ground floor to add base­ment space and build­ing a glass en­clo­sure on the roof. When con­struc­tion is com­plete, the mu­seum will house a 472-seat per­form­ing arts hall, a ban­quet area that can seat 420, a restau­rant and rooftop gar­den. The glass-en­closed top floor of­fers views of down­town.


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