One day before Museum of the Bible opens to the public, a diverse group of faith and secular leaders from around the world gathered at the eight-story, 430,000-square-foot museum in Washington to dedicate the newest museum in the nation’s capital in front of a standing-room-only crowd. Those joining in the celebration in the museum’s 472-seat, technologically advanced World Stage Theater included Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington; Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben, chief of chaplains of the U.S. Navy; Rabbi Stuart Weinblatt, president of the Rabbinic Cabinet of the Jewish Federations of North America; U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black; and Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. Museum of the Bible President Cary Summers, Executive Director Tony Zeiss, Ed.D., and Chairman of the Board Steve Green welcomed guests and spoke about the vision of the museum.
“We want to take a moment to set our differences aside and say, here’s a book that has changed our world…impacted lives; and we want to celebrate it in this facility today. And when guests leave hopefully they will be inspired to get engaged with it,” Co-founder and Chairman of the Board Steve Green said.
“We created this museum to help our guests understand and appreciate the role of the Bible–not only in America, but globally,” Summers said.
“Our purpose is this: to invite all people to engage in this wonderful book we call the Bible,” Zeiss said. “Its history, its narrative and its impact. In fact, those are the three themes you will see throughout this museum.”
Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said, “It is appropriate that in the nation’s capital where we have soaring museums and monuments and where people visit us from around the world that the Museum of the Bible would be built here.”
Cardinal Wuerl read a letter from Pope Francis: “His Holiness Pope Francis sends cordial greetings and prayerful best wishes to all gathered…for the inauguration of Museum of the Bible. It is his fervent hope that this significant cultural institution, through its extensive collections and exhibits, will promote a better understanding not only of the rich and complex history of the biblical text, but also the enduring power of its message to inspire and shape the lives of individuals and peoples of every time and place.”
The Israeli Minister of Tourism, Yariv Levin, shared a message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “This impressive building and the fascinating educational exhibits it contains is a fitting home for the thousands of religious texts and artifacts in your remarkable collection. By featuring Jewish, Protestant, Catholic and other faith traditions, the museum highlights our shared values and beliefs.”
Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said, “Today, nearly two and a half centuries after America’s founding, we are gathered to celebrate the arrival of the Bible in your capital. … Just as the Bible has always been the most prized possession of the Jewish people, the Bible has always been cherished by the American people. The towering figures that are memorialized with monuments in this great city surely testify to that.”
The morning ceremony was followed by an official ribbon-cutting in front of the museum’s entrance.
Museum of the Bible opened to the public Saturday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. Timed-entry tickets may be reserved at museumofthebible.org.