Museum of the Bible, built by Hobby Lobby owner, opens in DC

Religious Studies Professor Mark Chancey comments on the opening of the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.

By Rachel Zoll
Ap Religion Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight years ago, Hobby Lobby president Steve Green found a new way to express his Christian faith. His family's $4 billion arts and craft chain was already known for closing stores on Sundays, waging a Supreme Court fight over birth control and donating tens of millions of dollars to religious groups.

Now, Green would begin collecting biblical artifacts that he hoped could become the starting point for a museum.

On Friday, that vision will be realized when the 430,000-square-foot (39,948-square-meter) Museum of the Bible three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The $500 million museum includes pieces from the family's collection from the Dead Sea Scrolls, towering bronze gates inscribed with text from the Gutenberg Bible and a soundscape of the 10 plagues, enhanced by smog and a glowing red light to symbolize the Nile turned to blood.

It is an ambitious attempt to appeal simultaneously to people of deep faith and no faith, and to stand out amid the impressive constellation of museums in Washington. The Bible exhibits are so extensive that administrators say it would take days to see everything. . . . 

"The museum is a massive advertisement for the curriculum," said Mark Chancey, a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University, who has critically analyzed content of the Bible lesson plans.

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