January 11, 2012
By Joy Tipping
I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t been to the Museum of Biblical Art (formerly the Biblical Arts Center) since before the 2005 fire that almost completely destroyed the building and its contents. Only a few pieces of art were salvaged, and they’re now lovingly displayed in the museum’s gorgeous new digs, which opened in 2010. What an amazing resurrection.
The MBA, as it’s affectionately dubbed, now boasts 11 galleries spread over some 50,000 square feet of exhibit space, lovingly adorned with hundreds of paintings, sculptures, drawings, fine prints, rare Bibles, religious ceremonial items and more.
Scott Peck, co-director and curator, gave me a tour recently, and his enthusiasm is infectious (not to mention enlightening; I felt like I got an entire survey course of biblical-art history). One of the first items he showed me is a one-of-its-kind bronze casting after Donatello’s David. It’ll make you gasp aloud (as will the solid gold casting after Michelangelo’s marble sculpture Madonna, tucked away in a gallery of works on loan from the McCreless family of San Antonio.)...
You’d also be surprised what this museum has in its hallways and galleries: an altarpiece from the School of Botticelli ; more than 40 pieces by Jewish artist Marc Chagall ; a 1713 Duyckinck that’s one of the first signed and dated paintings in American history; a gallery devoted to African-American and Hispanic artists; a large section of Jewish and Israeli art; works by internationally known artists such as Andy Warhol and John Singer Sargent ; and pieces by locally based gallery artists — Bill Komodore and Barnaby Fitzgerald (who teach at Southern Methodist University), Denise Brown, Pamela Nelson.