The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Thursday, December 14, 2017


Washington's Bible museum aims to skirt the political weeds
The Children's Experience section is seen at the Museum of the Bible November 15, 2017 in Washington, DC. The 430,000-square-foot museum, with a purpose to invite people to engage with the Bible, will be opened to the public on November 17, 2017. Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP.

by Maggy Donaldson


WASHINGTON (AFP).- Washington's new Museum of the Bible will take a leap of faith this weekend, opening its massive bronze, Latin-inscribed gates to visitors eager to browse ancient relics and interactive exhibits -- as well as to critics skeptical of the institution's "non-sectarian" mission.

The privately funded $500-million museum tells the story of the Bible by blending archaeology with history and a hint of whimsy, offering everything from antiquities and biblical curio to an amusement ride, all intended to "celebrate" the good book.

But since its genesis the 430,000 square-foot museum has raised eyebrows, as much for its location -- mere blocks from the US Capitol building -- as its creator and major financial backer, billionaire evangelical Christian Steve Green.

Green's Oklahoma City-based arts and crafts retail chain Hobby Lobby burst into the public sphere when it won a 2014 Supreme Court case permitting companies on religious grounds to opt out of contraceptive coverage mandated by an Obama-era health care law.

And just months ago the company came under fire for illegally importing more than 5,500 artifacts, including ancient clay cuneiform tablets that had been smuggled out of Iraq. Attributing the purchase to naivete, Hobby Lobby agreed to forfeit the pieces and pay a $3-million settlement.

The Green family's Christian convictions and the smuggling debacle had skeptics questioning both the museum's ideological aim and the provenance of its antiquities, more than 500 of which are on view on the institution's "history" floor.

But Green, who chairs the museum's board, insists it aims only to "present the facts."

"This is a journalistic view of the Bible. It's not about espousing our faith," he told reporters at a preview ahead of the museum's grand opening.

"We're inviting all people to engage with this book, so we embrace all that will come and celebrate the Bible."

'Not about evangelizing'
Situated just south of Washington's National Mall esplanade that houses the Smithsonian museum complex, the sprawling eight-floor institution -- which includes a ballroom, performing arts hall and biblical garden -- lets visitors tour a theatrical exhibit recreating what Nazareth may have looked like in the time of Jesus.

Another area explains the evolution of the Old Testament, displaying artifacts and manuscripts from the Green family as well as the Israel Antiquities Authority. The museum also shows items on loan from institutions including the British Museum and Paris Louvre.

The "Washington Revelations" theater ride takes museum-goers on a simulation "flight" over the nation's capital, pointing out biblical references throughout the city, while the "impact" floor traces the Bible's societal influence -- particularly stateside -- on politics, education, music, movies and fashion.

A large-scale mural depicts pilgrims reading the Bible to Native Americans, weaves through portraits of suffragists and anti-slavery activists, and ends with an image of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr delivering his "I Have a Dream" speech, which contains a number of biblical references.

Small placards also explain how the Bible was used to justify both sides of the Civil War and opposing views on African-American slavery, as well as the enslavement of Native Americans. The museum does not, however, include references to hot-button topics like abortion or access to contraception.

"We try to avoid anything that's controversial," said Tony Zeiss, the museum's executive director.

"We're not about evangelizing, we're about piquing people's curiosity."

But Candida Moss -- religious scholar at the University of Birmingham and co-author of the book "Bible Nation: The United States of Hobby Lobby" -- says the museum missed a chance to delve into more complex aspects of biblical history.

'Rise above' the controversy
"You can't just tell the story; you're always interpreting," she said. "I think what's really curious is what's not in the Bible Museum."

Moss argues the museum focuses too narrowly on American history, making scant reference to the Mormon branch of Christianity, the Ethiopic Christian Churches, or the Bible's ties to the Quran.

She also voiced concern over the authenticity of a number of the museum's relics, including fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which she said "many scholars believe to be almost entirely forged."

One of the institution's advisors Lawrence Schiffman, a professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, acknowledged the fragments "may or may not be real" -- but said accompanying placards made clear research is underway.

Gordon Campbell, a University of Leicester professor and lead historian at the museum, says he hopes Washington's newest cultural institution will "rise above" the controversy.

"I aspire to make it encourage debate centered on the Bible and not centered on the Greens," he said. "I hope we can succeed."

For museum members Jim King and his wife Pam, a sexagenarian couple from Austin, Texas invited to the previews, the free museum is "world-class" and its location near federal government offices "a very great statement."

"I think it's something that anybody could enjoy," King said, "because of the historical aspects that are involved in it -- as well as the word of God, of course."


© Agence France-Presse





Today's News

November 17, 2017

Exhibition brings together the largest group of original drawings by Michelangelo

Bacon portrait of Freud to be shown for the first time since 1965

Rubens' daughter comes to the Scottish National Gallery

Eli Wilner and Company brings their restoration studio to the AIG Private Client Group Exhibitor Showcase

Pricing the priceless: the $450mn Da Vinci record

The largest mammoth skeleton in private hands to be offered at Aguttes

Washington's Bible museum aims to skirt the political weeds

Met Museum receives $80 million gift from the Irving Family

Cincinnati Art Museum commemorates 500 years since the Reformation with Dürer exhibition

North Carolina Museum of Art Director Lawrence J. Wheeler announces retirement

Secret Holocaust-era archive on display in Poland

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale totals $41.3 million

China's futuristic library: More fiction than books

Dutch woman with a trumpet taking Colombian salsa by storm

Nepal's musicians retune to tradition

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park breaks ground on $115 million expansion project

Three Bugatti bronzes and a Torsade table by Giacometti highlight Artcurial Art Deco sale

Exhibition of large-scale photographs by Michael Eastman opens at Edwynn Houk Gallery

The Rockwell Museum unveils new Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Gallery

A journey of transforming video games into art

Exhibition of art created by or about Oklahomans opens at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art

Aboriginal masterpiece by Emily Kame Kngwarreye sells for £1.2 million

Three significant large scale paintings by Alex Katz on view at Peter Blum Gallery's new downtown location

Scored by history, overhauled Algiers mosque to reopen

Fiumano Projects and Orion Contemporary merge to become Fiumano Clase

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- A petition decries 'suggestive' painting at New York's Met

2.- Leonardo Da Vinci sold for $450 million is headed to Louvre Abu Dhabi: Official

3.- Desperately seeking this Frida Kahlo painting. Last seen in Poland

4.- Lubaina Himid becomes oldest winner of United Kingdom's Turner Prize

5.- Two Gustav Klimt masterpieces on loan to the National Gallery of Canada

6.- Frick makes its most significant painting purchase in nearly 30 years

7.- Met Opera suspends Levine after sex abuse allegations

8.- Louvre launches appeal to acquire King François I's Book of Hours

9.- Smart-Guard, a new way to pack, ship and store fine art

10.- Save Venice Inc. restores Titian's Madonna di Ca' Pesaro



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful