Saturday, 13 September 2014

Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green's Bible Museum in Washington

A papyrus bought from a Turkish eBay dealer now in the Green Collection? (PhDiva)
There is a puff piece in the Washington Post's "Lifestyle magazine" about the Hobby Lobby Bible Museum due to open in 2017 in Washington (Michelle Boorstein, 'Hobby Lobby’s Steve Green has big plans for his Bible museum in Washington', Washington Post September 12). Yukky-yuck sycophantism in extremis. Ms Boorstein gushes about "a massive Bible museum with thousands of artifacts" coming to Washington with its "ballroom modeled after Versailles". Just what every serious museum needs, a ballroom. Oh, and there is apparently going to be a "restaurant serving biblically-themed meals" (Jacob-Burgers, deep-fry locusts in honey, manna-flavored popcorn?). Early plans show a project that’s part classic museum with labelled artifacts with descriptions, part theme park and part social media bonanza.
it will be one of the largest museums in the city, about the same size as the nearby Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The Bible museum’s proximity to the seat of U.S. government is no accident. [...]  The mission statement on its initial nonprofit filing documents was clear: to “bring to life the living word of God ... to inspire confidence in the absolute authority” of the Bible’s words.
Boorstein, the Post's religious correspondent, devotes little attention to the controversy of the origins of the private collection which provides the exhibits:

Green purchased his first biblical artifact five years ago: a circa 14th-century manuscript called the Roseberry Rolle. Today he is believed to be owner of one of the world’s biggest collections of biblical relics and manuscripts, some 44,000 items. Museum officials say the collection has been built too fast to estimate its worth, but Carroll, a consultant for wealthy investors, says it’s worth hundreds of millions. Carroll, a sometime professor of ancient manuscripts, was Green’s initial guide to Bible-buying. After parting ways from the Greens, Carroll founded a consulting firm that advises artifact collectors. The Christian media call him “the Indiana Jones of Biblical archaeology.” [...]  in 2009 [...] Green worked with Carroll to start building his collection. The economy crashed, and several private donors and major institutions started dumping assets. Green went on a three-year buying spree. [...] Green bought Dead Sea Scroll fragments, Babe Ruth’s Bible, the Codex Climaci Rescriptus — a bundle of manuscripts from the 5th to the 9th centuries [...] Green owns the world’s largest collection of Torah scrolls.
She makes no mention about dissolving mummy masks or mysterious Turkish dealers, which is a shame. [Update: for that you can now see Dorothy King's post of Saturday, September 13, 2014 here]. If "several private donors" (sic - collectors surely) "and major institutions started dumping assets", then where are the parallel purchases made by accredited public institutions to match Mr Green's three year spending spree with Scott Carroll between 2009 and 2012? Which "major institutions" does Mr Green claim to have bought deaccessioned artefacts from, and by whatmeans were they deaccessioned?

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