Hobby Lobby executive's Bible museum: priceless artifacts, scholarly doubts

Tue Oct 7, 2014 8:06am EDT
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By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Hobby Lobby's Steve Green hopes his planned $800 million Museum of the Bible in Washington and its priceless collection can satisfy both scholars and casual visitors.

But with Hobby Lobby a household word after the craft store chain's contentious victory in a Supreme Court ruling over contraception, scholars and analysts worry that despite its vast holdings the museum will give a narrow interpretation of one of the most influential and debated books in history.

The museum's goal is to attract visitors ranging from politicians to experts drawn by its fragments of Dead Sea Scrolls and cuneiform tablets, to those with little knowledge of the Bible, Green said in an interview.

"From the person that knows nothing to the highly scholarly visitor, I think we will have something for everyone," said Green, a Southern Baptist and chairman of the museum's board.

Asked what he would do if researchers delving into the collection discovered something about the Bible that went against his beliefs, he said: "I want to know what it is. It claims to be God's word, and if it's not I want to know that."

Construction of the eight-story, 430,000-square-foot (38,700-square-meter) Museum of the Bible is set to start this fall three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Opening is scheduled for 2017.


An artist's rendering shows the exterior of the proposed Museum of the Bible, located two blocks from the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in this undated handout image. Hobby Lobby President Steve Green is planning to begin construction on the $800 million 8-storey Bible museum in the fall of 2014, according to local media. REUTERS/Smith Group JJR/Handout via Reuters