Friday, January 5, 2018

The Bible Museum: Problems, Riches, and Heartbreak

The Bible Museum: Problems, Riches, and Heartbreak

I went to the Bible Museum on Wednesday (Jan 3, 2018). I went with some family and my best friend from High School.

The first thing I want to say is: I thank God for the Museum of the Bible and for everyone who contributed and worked hard to create it.

I do recommend going if you can. You won’t be able to see it all in one day. I only spent one day there, and so this post is based only my experience and the experience of my friend and family members (there were 8 of us).

Problems and Helpful Information

I’ll start by mentioning a few problems. My main reason for mentioning these is so that if you visit you can to some extent avoid them, and those which you can’t avoid at least should not surprise you.

1.  Like most of the museums in DC, there’s no parking at the museum. You can take the metro (subway system) which is easy to use and has a station very close to the museum. If you plan to be there the whole day you will be traveling during the peak fares period which costs more. Another option is to drive and park in a parking garage. We did this. I strongly recommend reserving a spot in a garage ahead of time. We paid $13, but if we had not reserved a spot, the same garage would have been $40! I used a service called We parked in the following parking garage:  400 E St. SW - Hyatt Place Garage - (Lot 427). It used valet parking and because many people left at the same time, this did create some delay. However the garage is very close (10 minute walk) and I would either use it again or take the Metro. If you have a car full, parking is almost certainly cheaper, and likely also faster.

2.  You do have to get tickets for the museum. The entry is free, but by giving tickets they keep the museum from being too overly crowded. You can easily order the tickets online.

3.  The entry process is a bit slow as you pass through security.

4.  They have a room for checking in your coat, but it was full by the time we got there (we went on a really frigid day). So we had to wear our coats all day in the museum.

5.  You can’t leave and return. This means you have to eat there. The main eating place is, in my opinion, a bit expensive for what you get. Also, it was crowded but the line moved fairly fast. You may want to plan to eat there when it’s not normal lunch time, as we noticed there was almost no line other than at normal lunch time.

6.  While entry to the museum and most of its exhibits is free, some exhibits do cost money ($8/person). The exhibit where you simulate “flying” through the air and see where Bible verses are engraved around Washington DC doesn’t last very long, and I don’t think it was worth the $8. Also, it can make you a bit motion sick (I don’t easily get motion sick, but felt mildly motion sick from this). Of course, I didn’t mind supporting the museum in some way.

7. As is true for any of the museums in DC, expect to be on your feet all day and do a lot of walking. There are benches to sit on, but if you’re not up to a long day with lots of walking you might not enjoy this.

To me, the above problems were minor. The museum is more than worth it. I just mention them so you can prepare and possibly avoid a few problems.


The museum is full of wonderful exhibits. Everyone who went found exhibits that they like, although different people had different “favorites”.

If you like visual experiences, the walk though overview of the Old Testament with lots of visual presentation is very well done. The “village of Nazareth” is also nice. My wife really liked the “Amazing Grace” exhibit about the life of John Newton (this is not a permanent exhibit). The exhibit on the impact of the Bible is also interesting.

My daughter Joy, who is majoring in Bible and Applied Linguistics and currently studying both Greek and Hebrew, absolutely loved the history of the Bible exhibit on the 4th floor. They have a wonderful collection of Bibles from around the world and across the centuries.

So whether you like to read a lot of plaques and details, or you want flashy (but meaningful) multimedia presentations, they have it.


I asked several members of our group what impacted them the most. They gave the same answer. As you go through the history of the Bible section, you will see many Bibles in different languages from all around the world. But at the end of this section of the museum, they have a deeply moving display which demonstrates the unfinished task of Bible translation.

There is a fairly large space in which you are encircled by tall book shelves. The book shelves have a book holder for every language spoken today. The book holders are color coded. Many of the book holders have a copy of the Bible from that language in them. Some of them only have the New Testament. But the yellow boxes are all empty. They represent languages spoken by people around the world where there is not yet any Bible in their language. There were far too many yellow boxes.

This unfinished task is not easy to complete. Many of these language groups live in places, such as Muslim or Hindu nations which are very hostile to the gospel and anything Christian. These places are spiritually dark and often very poor. They are uncomfortable, dangerous places to live. It takes years of work and sacrifice to learn a language, recruit native speakers, and work together to produce a Bible translation. The whole time the workers can expect constant opposition and suffering of many kinds. But it’s worth the price.

Here’s a video of a remote tribe celebrating the arrival of the first printed Bible in their language (this is not from the Bible museum, but fits in with the message of the need for more Bible translation):

How I long for the day when people from EVERY language join in the celebration of what Christ has done for us:

NIV Revelation 7:9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

There will be no more empty, yellow boxes!

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

1 comment:

  1. Mark, thanks for posting this article. I look forward to visiting before too long, and your overview was interesting and helpful! And I share your prayers about the work of Bible translation into the "heart language" of many more people groups.