Floor 2—Impact of the Bible: Bible in America

Overview

The second floor of the museum, which addresses the Impact of the Bible, demonstrates the enormous influence the Bible has on nearly every aspect of life. There are four major exhibit areas:

  • Bible in the World, which gives guests an unprecedented look at the Bible's impact on culture worldwide
  • Bible in America, which shows guests how the Bible became a powerful influence in America, from the arrivals of the first Christian and Jewish settlers to today
    • The Bible in America exhibit tells of the Bible's impact throughout the American story. The main design element guiding the narrative is a 254-foot-long tapestry illustrating key moments where the presence and impact of the Bible is found throughout American history. Key ideas, facts and quotes will be projected onto the tapestry, marked by central exhibit elements and artifact cases.
  • Bible Now, in which guests experience the Bible in real-time media feeds, showing its up-to-the-minute impact
  • Washington Revelations, which takes guests on an amazing flight through Washington, D.C., revealing the Bible's presence in inscriptions, place names and monuments


Size and Content

The second floor of the museum has 27,000 square feet of exhibit space; 5,125 square feet of that space is dedicated to the following Bible in America galleries.

Coming to America: Diverse Beliefs in a New Land

  • Theme: Freedom and survival are at the heart of the Bible’s journey across the oceans as worlds come together.
  • Key components and artifacts:
    • Excerpt of the Mayflower Compact with metal lettering and placement above the central case
    • Three Old World Bibles: King James, Geneva and Douay-Rheims
    • Bay Psalm Book
    • Nathaniel Morton's "New England's Memorial" containing a list of the signers of the
    • Mayflower Compact

Tyranny and Tolerance: New Models of Biblical Authority

  • Theme: Foundations for early Colonial America are laid, unique experiences of distinct groups are explored and differences in the way early settlers interpreted the Bible lead to regionalism. 
  • Key components and artifacts:
    • Interactive experience in which guests explore the Bible's impact on place names
    • Charters and laws written by English monarch(s), which allowed for the founding of colonies
    • William Penn's "The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience"
    • Sauer/Saur Bible—the first German-language Bible printed in North America
    • Eliot Indian Bible—the first Native American-language Bible published in North America
    • Several Phillis Wheatley poems
    • New England Primer

The Great Awakening: Challenging Establishment

  • Theme: An immersive theater experience will transport guests to Colonial Philadelphia to witness firsthand the fervor surrounding George Whitefield's sermons.
  • Key components and artifacts:
    • Complete reproduction of George Whitefield's preaching pulpit
    • George Whitefield's "The Marks of the New Birth"
    • Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"
       

Equality Before God: Liberty's Struggle

  • Theme: Ideals of the Bible and enlightenment underlay an atmosphere of revolution and independence as America is born.
  • Key components and artifacts:
    • Full-scale replica of the Liberty Bell by the same foundry that produced the original
    • Three media stations of modern actors playing Founding Fathers, each drawing on the Bible for support in discussing and debating topical issues from the Revolutionary Era
    • Thomas Paine's "Common Sense"
    • Robert Aitken's "Bible of the Revolution," authorized by Congress during the
    • Revolutionary War
    • Government printing of the "Jefferson Bible," given to new members of Congress for nearly five decades at the start of the 20th century
    • Original printings of letters written by Founding Fathers

Religious Freedom: A New Awakening

  • Theme: A second wave of religious revivalism pushes the borders of a young country, and sides begin to form over slavery.
  • Key components and artifacts:
    • First edition of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin
    • The Liberator newspaper, which also inspired the tapestry art in this section
    • Civil War-era Sharps rifle

Biblical Authority: A Nation Split

  • Theme: The Civil War divides the nation as both sides of the fight turn to the Bible in their defense; new debates form the contested topics of the next century and beyond.
  • Key components and artifacts:
    • Excerpt of President Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address presented in grand letters; viewers hear the voices of diverse Americans reading Lincoln's words
    • Original Manuscript of Julia Ward Howe's "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"
    • Original photograph of Abraham Lincoln the year before he became president

Civil Rights and Beyond: Equality and Religious Freedom

  • Theme: The most recognizable figures of the civil rights movement relied heavily on the Bible, which remains relevant in an ever-changing country.
  • Key components and artifacts:
    • Interactive experience where guests will be able to explore the Bible's influence on popular American songs and spirituals
    • Martin Luther King Jr. reading his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, played in sync with a series of text projections
    • Several Martin Luther King Jr. original books that include a number of his famous speeches and letters
    • Several Billy Graham artifacts, highlighted by a Native American headdress given to the evangelist by a tribe in Arizona
    • Collection of Bibles in various translations to represent new populations in America

Bible in America Now: Questions and Thoughts

  • Guests participate in a survey on the Bible in America now, resulting in spectacular data-graphics projected onto a tapestry backdrop.

Makers

Galleries on the Impact of the Bible floor were designed by C&G Partners, the New York-based multi-specialty creative studio that is dedicated to design for culture—from cultural organizations to organizational culture. The galleries' content was developed by C&G Partners in consultation with an international team of scholars led by Gordon Campbell, Ph.D., and Byron Johnson, Ph.D.

About Museum of the Bible
Museum of the Bible is an innovative, global, educational institution whose purpose is to invite all people to engage with the Bible. On Nov. 17, 2017, Museum of the Bible, which aims to be the most technologically advanced museum in the world, will open its 430,000-square-foot nonprofit museum just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. A digital fly-through of the Museum is viewable here. A 360-degree hardhat tour of the museum is available here.

Website | museumoftheBible.org  Twitter | @museumofBible

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