Completed in 2017 three blocks from the Capitol and steps from the metro, the 430,000-square-foot structure is one of the largest museums in a sea of museums costing $500 million to complete. Originally an early 20th-century refrigeration warehouse, the architects retained the brick façade but every floor and the roof were removed to expand the height of each level. The museum seeks to showcase the history and influence of the best-selling book of all time in a nonsectarian, educational, scholarly and engaging way. On exhibit are 40,000 artifacts that represent 4,000 years of history.
The visitors’ experience begins on the exterior. The huge entrance doors are 3” thick and 40’ tall with 118 panels of German Brass, replicating Gutenberg’s backward text printing plate of the first page of Genesis. The Gutenberg Bible was the first mass produced Bible in the world. Immediately inside the vestibule is a freestanding, 16-panel, window. Inscribed on the 32’ by 13.5’ window is Psalm 19 translated into 16 languages including German, Russian, Swahili and Hindi.
A spectacular grand hall is your entrée into the museum. The space, once a train loading bay, has been redesigned with Jerusalem stone pillars and a 40’ high, 140’ long ceiling. Moving ceiling displays feature rotating biblical images.
At the end of the lobby visitors can access all six floors via a staircase or an elevator that shows an introductory film as you ride. Windows along the staircase give the effect of ascending into the light.
On the second floor there is a small theater with an introductory video on Biblical architecture. This floor is devoted to “The Impact of the Bible”. “Stories of the Bible” are featured on the third level.
“The History of the Bible” is featured on the fourth floor.
Each floor presents videos, movies and interactive stations to amplify the exhibits.
There are two on-site eateries, the Milk and Honey Café and the Manna Restaurant, and a children’s play area where families and individuals can take a break.
Don’t forget to look for unique and meaningful gifts in the Museum Gift Shop.