Construction has begun Thursday on the Washington, D.C. eight-story Museum of the Bible, with 430, 000 square-foot of space. The brainchild of Steve Green, president of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby, the new museum will be largest in the U.S. capital, and the world’s first museum devoted solely to the Bible
“It’s an exciting day for us, ” Green said. “It’s been a dream, and it’s becoming reality.”
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The $400 million project is scheduled for completion in 2017 and will feature the Green Collection, one of the world’s largest private compilations of biblical texts and artifacts.
It will have a facade modeled after various printed manuscripts of the Bible, stained-glass windows from Germany, and a top-floor, glass-enclosed promenade that will offer “some amazing views” of the National Mall and the Capitol, according to project director Brian Flegel.
The museum will feature a 200-foot LED screen on the lobby ceiling, displaying a set of rotating images from Israel, Rome and Spain.
Architectural plans call for restoring the exterior of the building, originally built in the 1920s as a refrigeration warehouse for the District of Columbia, and gutting the interior to build the museum’s various features. Individual floor designs will be managed by the firms that created the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Disney’s Hollywood Studio in Orlando.
“This is a museum dedicated to one book, ” Cary Summers, museum president, told reporters. “It’s the most widely sold book in history, most debated book in history and most banned book in history. It’s the one that has the most controversy of any book in history and it’s also the book that has impacted the world more than any single piece of literature that’s ever been written.
“People ask why we do this. We believe that it’s such an important part of our daily life that we should focus our time and efforts so that other people can be engaged with the Bible, just as we are.”
Back in June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby does not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The family owned company challenged the mandate which it claimed violates their religious beliefs as Christians.
When asked if the museum’s goal was to bring people to Christianity, Green said: “We would hope that people would consider what the book has to say … if it’s compelling, then that’s a decision they can make on their own.”