University of Leicester academic helping to create prestigious £500 million museum dedicated to the story of the Bible

Posted by pt91 at Oct 17, 2014 09:30 AM |
Professor Gordon Campbell is a lead consultant on Museum of the Bible based in Washington DC

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 17 October 2014

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  • The 430,000sq-ft museum will feature the Green Collection – which includes Dead Sea Scrolls, Elvis’s and Johnny Cash’s Bibles and Torahs that survived the Spanish Inquisition
  • Museum to create walk-through replica of the town of Nazareth as it would have been in Jesus’s time
  • Professor Campbell’s responsibilities include oversight of the Museum’s Biblical Archaeology and History exhibits.

A University of Leicester professor is helping to establish one of the world's most comprehensive museums dedicated to the best-selling book of all time – the Holy Bible.

Professor Gordon Campbell, from the University’s School of English, is playing a pivotal role in the creation of a £500million ($800million) institution based in Washington DC, USA, devoted solely to one of the most prominent religious texts ever written.

Construction of the unique historical project, telling the story of a book, will begin this autumn and will stand just two-miles from the White House. It is due to open in autumn 2017, and will be called the Museum of the Bible.

The 430,000sq-ft museum will be housed in a building that will have eight floors. There will be three floors of  primary exhibits, each approximately 40,000 sq-ft, dedicated to the Bible's history, its narrative and the impact it has had on the world using a variety of hi-tech, interactive and immersive experiences for visitors of all ages.

It will also feature a small selection from more than 40,000 Biblical artefacts and manuscripts, and its creators have said it will have non-sectarian, scholarly approach.

Among the exhibits, which include the personal Bibles of people such as Elvis and Johnny Cash, will be a walk-through replica of the town of Nazareth as it would have been in Jesus’s time.

Professor Campbell, an expert on the King James Bible and a specialist in 17th century and Renaissance studies, has been tasked with overseeing sections of the museum focused on Biblical archaeology and the book's history.

He said: “The experience of contributing to the creation of a great museum is exhilarating. It is a delight to work with architects, designers, technical wizards and scholars in a common enterprise.”

The project is being funded by American billionaire David Green, founder of a chain of arts and crafts stores in America.

Green, the son of a preacher, claims to have built his empire solely on religious, Biblical principles and attributes his success to God.

All of the artefacts and religious manuscripts which will be exhibited are from the Green Collection - the world's largest private assortment of rare Biblical texts.

Among the exhibits, the museum will feature the second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scrolls, and the world's largest collection of Jewish scrolls, spanning more than 700 years and including Torahs that survived the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust.

Other highlights include texts and papyri dating back to the lost library at Alexandria as well as the earliest known translations of the Psalms into English.

Outside the collection, the state-of-art museum will feature a 500-seater performing arts theatre, restaurant, ballroom, rooftop garden and lecture halls.

Professor Campbell, who sits on the liturgy group for the reinterment of King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral, added: “The Museum is funded by an evangelical family, but we are not creating an evangelical museum. The treatment of the Old Testament, for example, is designed to ensure that Jewish visitors feel comfortable. There will be many visitors from faith communities, but the Museum will also be high on the list of many visitors from all over the world who come to Washington to visit the world’s greatest collection of museums clustered around the Mall.”

"It takes a world-class team to build a world-class museum," said Cary Summers, chief operating officer for Museum of the Bible. "We've assembled just that: the best in architectural, interior and environmental design to provide Museum of the Bible guests with an experience that is unique, innovative, customizable to each visitor's level of interest and, most of all, memorable.

“We’ve also assembled a team of world-renowned scholars to ensure that the museum’s approach to the Bible is historically accurate,” Summers added. “This museum isn’t about any person’s religious beliefs, including those of the Green family. Professor Gordon Campbell, perhaps the world’s best authority on the history of the King James Bible, and other scholars of his calibre have been tasked with making sure we create a museum that engages people of all faiths and interests.”

The museum will be based at what was formerly the Washington Design Centre, in Virginia Avenue SW – an historic building close to the National Mall.

Its creators settled on the country's capital after considering 20 previous locations including New York and Dallas.

Steve Green, Museum of the Bible board chairman, said: "Washington DC is the museum capital of the world.

"So, it's only fitting that our board selected Washington as the home for this international museum.

“We invite everyone—adults and children, the intellectually curious and most seasoned of scholars alike—to Museum of the Bible to explore this most important and influential book."


Notes to editors:

Professor Campbell is available for interview –please contact him via:

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