WASHINGTON – The world's most famous book got its own museum Saturday in the heart of Washington, D.C.
The $500 million Museum of the Bible, largely funded by the evangelical billionaires who own the Hobby Lobby craft chain, opened its doors to the public, just blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
Its symbolism – heralded by religious leaders – wasn't lost on the visitors who walked through the eight-story, 430,000-square-foot space filled with high-tech exhibits and thousands of religious artifacts. The crowd was not nearly as large as the building could hold, but those who explored the museum expressed enthusiasm.
“I'm 73 years old, and I've seen a lot of things, but this is the most amazing thing I've ever seen,” said Jean Johnson of Crow, West Virginia, who was particularly startled by an exhibit on languages that the Bible has never been translated into.
Artifacts span history, from ancient writings to Elvis' personal Bible. Glitzy attractions include a motion ride, a life-size burning bush and Noah's ark, and a rooftop garden with Bible-inspired plants.
Ellie Moiola, 9, stood watching New Testament re-enactors, in robes and sandals, explain how they use twine as a measurement tool.
“For the kids to be able to walk into the world of Jesus of Nazareth – that's a really neat experience they can't get anywhere else,” said her mother Ayron Moiola, of Brawley, California. Moiola praised the varied exhibits: “Just lots of options to tell the story you've heard your whole life in a really different way. And to have it so well done, and so thoughtful.”