Date of Visit:
November 20, 2017
I had reserved our tickets for the Museum of the Bible as soon as they opened reservations and ended up with 8am tickets. Apparently, the museum doesn't open to the general public until 10am and the system shouldn't have let us, but they honored the tickets for the few of us that had ended up with the tickets as they do open at 8am for members (and sounds like also groups, but there were no groups). It ended up being a great way to enjoy the museum almost entirely to ourselves, which makes us think that museum membership is potentially worthwhile even if you only visit once.
The start of the museum is a little awkward because at least at this point I don't think anyone is showing up without tickets yet you are directed to the ticket counters to get started. I don't get why they don't just have people standing inside the door after security to scan your ticket like they do at the ballpark, for example. With there being less than ten people there at 8am it wasn't a big deal, but when we were leaving at 11:30am the line was backed up to security because there really isn't space for a line for the ticket counter. It just doesn't make sense other than they just really want to have you go to the ticket counter so they can try to get you to donate and do the paid attractions.
We started our visit on Floor 2 with the Bible in America exhibit. Mik had fun with the interactive Bible on the Map display. We kind of rushed through it, though, and also never got back around to the Bible in the World exhibit because we had 8:45am tickets for the Hebrew Bible on Floor 3.
On Floor 3, we ended up only checking out The World of Jesus of Nazareth exhibit because the Hebrew Bible was currently not working. The World of Jesus of Nazareth was an interesting exhibit designed to be an immersive experience that reminds me of visiting historic sites that have reenactors as there were a few people there acting as villagers that you could interact with. While it was kind of a small exhibit, it was probably our favorite because it was well done with there even being sound effects such as water splashing in the ritual bath area.
Our other favorite part of the museum was the elevators. The ones to the Mezzaine level are sort of interesting with the walls having script on it, but the ones between the main floors are really cool as they have video screens showing scenes on them. Also, the buttons are big and nicely labeled with what's on the floor rather than being just numbers.
The exhibit we spent most of our time in, though, was the History of the Bible. Here it was interesting to see not just the various Bibles, but the evolution of writing and printing in general as the some of the examples texts on display were cuneiform on clay, Torah scrolls, and illuminated Bibles. It was also interesting that it focused on how the texts became translated into more and more languages.
After the History of the Bible exhibit, it was around 10:30am and Mik was hungry. All along we had planned to try out the Manna Restaurant on the top floor, but they ended up not being open yet. Thus, instead, we checked out the Milk & Honey Cafe, which is worth visiting even if you don't get anything as there's a small display about the history of the building on one wall. In particular, it was interesting to learn that they took out every other floor in the building as part of converting it into the Museum of the Bible and it explains why the cafe level has such low ceilings as they preserved the original floor height in this area.
Overall we enjoyed the Museum of the Bible, although having it almost to ourselves probably significantly contributed to our ability to really enjoy what we did get around to seeing. We still plan to visit again to see the Hebrew Bible attraction and what we missed on Floor 2 and the temporary exhibits on Floor 5, but we'll probably have to become members because it really was nice to be able to start at 8am other than we were then done too early to check out the Manna Restaurant.
Museum of the Bible
400 4th St SW
Washington DC 20024
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