A little over a year ago, an amazing museum opened up in Washington, D.C. I’ve only visited the Museum of the Bible once, but I was astonished at the excellence I saw. It’s especially incredible considering how the museum’s team went from nothing but an idea in December 2010 to opening the fourth-largest museum in D.C. in November 2017. Charisma featured the museum on its cover during opening month—click here to read that article—and I’ve known the founders, David and Barbara Green, for many years.
But Cary Summers, a member of the Museum of the Bible’s leadership team, says God alone gets the credit for the museum. Summers recently visited Charisma Media headquarters in Lake Mary, Florida, so I asked him to join me in the podcast studio to talk about the miraculous story behind the museum’s founding. (Be sure to listen to the entire interview by scrolling to the end of this article.)
“Our attorneys did not believe this statement, but we always said, ‘God is going before us,'” Summers says of the initial building process. “And they finally realized that [it was true] when we got through some very difficult hearings with 100 percent yes-votes, which they had never seen.”
What truly sets the Museum of the Bible apart from the hundreds of other Bible museums around the world, though, is its sheer size and scope—which, in my opinion, make it comparable to the Smithsonian. It resides in an old, remodeled refrigerator warehouse with 430,000 square feet of space.
“We were not planning to build a museum this fast,” Summers says. “We just said, ‘Let’s go and see what the world has out there. We found this property after a couple years in Washington, D.C. It was not the ideal property at all because it was a warehouse—beat up, ugly. … But we just said, ‘Let’s see what happens, if this is what God wants. And He’ll either make it happen [or not.]’ Well, [He] did.”
After buying the building in July 2012, the team felt a strange sense of urgency to get it ready for the museum. They started working on the building with a God-given fervor.
“Once we started, we never stopped,” Summers says. “[It was] three shifts a day, 24 hours a day, and we built in half the time of any museum ever built of that size in Washington.”
I can attest that the building is beautiful. What was once an ugly, 100-year-old, red-brick building is now a fascinating museum with a grand entrance where a railroad used to pass through. Since then, the museum has won several awards for its restoration work. And yet the team did very little to change the overall look of the museum, which they believe was from divine inspiration.
“[The building] represents the Bible and us, because the Bible has been beat up and it’s the most banned book in the world and the most debated book, the most burned book, the most destroyed book,” Summers says. “And it’s almost like this red-brick building. It was ragged and not very pretty. But it survived to do a magnificent thing to house this Bible museum. And it just hit us that [it’s] much like the people God describes in the Bible—beat up and looking to be made new.”
But even more fascinating than the outside of the museum is the inside, where visitors can explore 70 hours’ worth of information and exhibits. Summers tells me people have dedicated nine eight-hour days to go through it, and they still missed several things.
One exhibit makes you feel like you’re flying through Washington, D.C., as it shows you all the places in the city that cite Scripture.
“We did that because so much denial is going on about the nation not being founded on Judeo-Christian principles,” Summers tells me. “And the drumbeat just got higher and higher and higher. And we decided not to argue it, but just to show people. … You’re just saying, ‘Here are the facts.’ And that’s what we tried to do throughout the museum.”
Summers says anyone can visit the museum, even if they’re skeptical about the Christian faith. Instead of taking a preaching stance, he says the goal of the museum is simply to let truth speak for itself.
“I think that’s one of the great, fun parts of touring this museum—no matter where you are in your faith walk,” he says. “It doesn’t matter. If you have three Ph.D.s, you’re going to find something in that museum that you didn’t know.”
But the museum’s leadership team isn’t getting comfortable with what they’ve already produced. They’re already planning more exhibits and features to give visitors a great experience no matter how many times they come. They’re offering lectures and symposiums on Facebook Live and are even bringing in a new exhibit from the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam that deals with Passover.
“So it’s not only just the museum for what it is today, but we can subsidize it with six different exhibits at one time,” Summers explains. “[They’re] all very different and quite exciting. They’re just fantastic, and some you’ll never see again because they were created for us by other people and they’re using the museum to launch them.”
If you haven’t already visited the Museum of the Bible, I highly encourage you to do so. I had a great time when I went, and I believe you will too. It’s in walking distance from the National Mall and is chock-full of insights about the most important book in the world. For more information about the museum, visit museumofthebible.org.
Don’t miss out on my fascinating conversation with Summers. Just click the podcast below to hear the entire interview, and if you enjoy it, be sure to subscribe to my “Strang Report” podcast at cpnshows.com!