Wednesday 16 July 2014

Hobby Lobby Bible Museum

 “Not far from their thinking was
that Washington represents the heartbeat
of who we are as American[s] and wanting
to influence things from that vantage point,” Mr.
Carroll said. “It’s a pulpit of sorts.”

The news is not exactly news, the evangelical Christian family that owns the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores is planning to build a Bible museum in Washington. The new building will stand on the site of an old refrigerated warehouse (currently the Washington Design Centre), near the National Mall and is scheduled to open in 2017. It is planned to place 40 000 privately owned exhibits inside.
The development of a Bible museum has long been a dream of the Oklahoma-based Green family, which has built Hobby Lobby into a $3 billion company in which its religious beliefs infuse every aspect of the business, from the music played in its stores to being closed on Sundays. But on the heels of the company’s legal victory, the project is raising concern in some quarters that the Greens’ museum could blur the line between educating and evangelizing. Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and the son of its founder, has referred to the Bible as “a reliable historical document,” and, as part of the museum project, he is developing a curriculum to “reintroduce this book to this nation [...] “This nation is in danger because of its ignorance of what God has taught”
The eight storey building on the site, which is considered an important example of Renaissance Revival architecture, is being designated as a historic landmark. It will be adapted to house the collection with the facade preserved and the interior gutted and reinforced and a two-story glass addition built onto the on the roof.
The genesis of a nonprofit Bible museum came five years ago when Mr. Green, a Protestant, took some of the money he made from Hobby Lobby and started scouring the world for ancient manuscripts, Torahs, papyri and Bibles. He spent more than $30 million during his initial buying spree, but Scott Carroll, an archaeologist and historian who advised Mr. Green on his purchases, estimated that the collection was now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. “You’re talking about landmark acquisitions,” Mr. Carroll said, referring to items such as a nearly complete book of Psalms on papyrus and the earliest recordings of the New Testament in Jesus’ household language of Palestinian Aramaic. “These are huge things that any museum, to have a portion of them, would be honored to have.” [...] As the Green collection evolved from an assemblage of rare biblical artifacts to the curation of a large museum, Mr. Carroll, formerly a professor at Baylor University, decided in 2012 to part ways with the project. While he believes in the scholarly roots and historical significance of the collection, he is concerned that the Green family faces a difficult challenge in balancing its passion for ministry with the objective mission of a museum.
Any museum would be honoured to have "portions"? Is he talking about study materials or trophies? Rappeport suggests that "the traveling show of Mr. Green’s collection" (sic) offers some clues as to the way these items will be displayed in the new museum.
It included theatrical experiences such as hologram recreations of biblical scenes, re-enactments of fourth-century monks transcribing the Bible by candlelight in St. Jerome’s Cave and a multimedia “Noah’s ark experience.” Whether evolutionary explanations of history will be included, along with those of other faiths, remains to be seen, but Mr. Green has made his personal views on the matter clear. “Discovery after discovery supports the accuracy of this book,” he said. “The book we have is a reliable historical document.”
I guess then they'll not be employing any archaeologists on the staff, or displays on the Neolithic of the Holy Land and the huge 'flood' that would have destroyed it. The article did not say whether the new museum would continue to acquire artefacts.

Meanwhile, on another front, Green's "education non-profit", the "Museum of the Bible" , has postponed the launch of its new school curriculum: David Van Biema 'Hobby Lobby’s Green Family Delays Launch of Bible Education Program', July 16, 2014. The creation of the four-year high school syllabus,  to be adopted by the Mustang, Okla., school district, is in the hands of Jerry Pattengale. The projected textbook has come in for much criticism.

Alan Rappeport, 'Family Behind Hobby Lobby Has New Project: Bible Museum', New York Times, July 16, 2014

Vignette:  The book we have is a reliable historical document.

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