Saturday, June 9, 2018

While You are Seeing Theater in DC, Stop By the Museum of the Bible

World Stage Theater located on the fifth floor of Museum of the Bible. 

By Lauren Yarger
Many of you ask about tourist destinations to visit while you are taking in theater. For those of you seeing theater in the Washington, DC area, one stop to consider is the new Bible Museum.

The facility itself, which opened almost a year ago,  is quite impressive with a well-thought-out building. The operations of the world's largest museum dedicated to the bible were still getting their feet wet when I visited shortly after it opened. (I'd love to hear from any readers who had more recent experiences at the museum).

Spearheading the effort to bring the bible to the midst of tourist-drenched DC is Co-founder and Chairman of the Board Steve Green, owner of the Hobby Lobby store chain. Indeed, many of the museum's exhibits come from his private collection of artifacts collected over many years. Approximately 1150 items from the museum’s permanent collection are on display with another 2,000 items on loan from other institutions and collections. 

The Museum Collections include artifacts and objects from a range of cultures and time periods, from the Ancient Near East to the modern period. The permanent collection focuses on biblical items, manuscripts, printed Bibles and books, and art. These collections allow the Museum of the Bible to convey the global impact and compelling history of the Bible in a unique and powerful way.

Controversy over the provenance of some of the items in Green's collection has resulted in an extended vetting process before items are put on display according to museum officials. An artifact's provenance is the history of its ownership and location, from its creation or place of modern discovery to the present. This history helps to verify the authenticity and importance of an artifact. It also contributes to understanding how an object was used over time. 

The museum has explained its process in this way:

"Two areas are of special concern for museums in general and for Museum of the Bible (MOTB) in particular: first, items that may have been subject to Nazi-era looting in Europe from 1933–1945, and second, ancient objects that may have originated in source nations or in areas of modern conflict, such as modern-day Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Museum of the Bible, in consultation with cultural heritage and legal experts, has developed procedures for researching and investigating objects with potentially difficult histories in areas of turmoil. In doing so, Museum of the Bible has made a firm commitment to ethical collecting and to acknowledging objects in its collection that may have entered the market as a result of war, looting, or colonial practice."

Museum of the Bible’s acquisition policy, adopted in 2016, can be viewed here.

A quick overview:
In addition to the permanent collection, the museum offers special exhibits, some long-term, some limited in time, some at a cost additional to admission. Current and upcoming special exhibits include:

  • The People of the Land: History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel
  • Treasures from the Vatican Museums and the Vatican Library
  • The Wiedmann Bible
  • Pilgrim Preacher: Billy Graham, the Bible, and the Challenges of the Modern World
  • Jerusalem and Rome: Cultures in Context in the First Century CE

The museum also offers a number of special events in its 472-seat, state-of-the-artWorld Stage Theater, which is, I admit, what drew me to visit the museum. The national Broadway tour of Amazing Grace premiered with a run there and was followed by concerts by a Christian singing group. 

In addition, some exhibits included costumed characters explaining life style and history. There are some film presentations available in seated areas and visitors can enjoy a break at the cafe or gift shop. The top floor offers some space for groups to hold events.

My quick take:
It has been a while since my visit, so I am hoping things have smoothed out as the museum has gotten up and running. For me, the exhibits in the eight-story, 430,000-square-foot museum seemed limited and rather unimpressive. As more items are cleared for the collection and it grows, I am sure the permanent collections will seem more impressive.  I thoughts special exhibits, all of rather short duration, should have been included in the admission price, including "Washington Revelations," a disappointing special interactive ride that allowed participants to feel they were flying around DC to see biblical quotes on buildings throughout the city.  The concert I saw was attended by six or seven people. Here's hoping the space will get some use -- and bring in some audience members.

Communications overall have been difficult with folks reporting they are unable to find information, both via email or phone. This may improve with increased, experienced staffing.  See below for ticketing information and hours and other information including how to support the museum, which does not receive government funding, Its support comes from private donations, memberships and admissions.

I don't want to sound negative too here, but I know my readers want honesty. and I do feel there were kinks to work out. There is great benefit in taking in the exhibits and to a bible presence in the middle of our nation's capital, however, so do check it out if you are in the area.

Visit The Bible Museum, 400 4th St SW, Washington, DC, at www.museumofthebible.org.

Hours of Operation: Daily 10 am to 5 pm

Suggested admission prices:
Adult $19.95; Child (12 and under) $9.95
* Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

Become a member here.


Upper Gallery and World Stage Theater – 6th Floor of Museum of the Bible 


Bible in America exhibit 



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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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