Thomas Paul Schirrmacher visited the “Museum of the Bible” a second time and applauds efforts to make the Bible more accessible to everyone
The Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) Bishop Dr. Thomas Paul Schirrmacher visited the “Museum of the Bible” in Washington, DC, a second time since he assumed office. He was accompanied by his daughter Dr. Esther Schirrmacher. They enjoyed a guided tour and meeting with Chief Executive Officer Harry M. Hargrave. The centrally-located museum that opened five years ago offers a variety of exhibits and experiences aimed at making the Bible more accessible to Christians and non-Christians alike.
The eight-story, 430,000 square-foot museum is located three blocks from the United States Capitol. It has been designed by the lead architect group that created the International Spy Museum, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum’s sixth floor also has some phenomenal views of the Capitol building, the Library of Congress, and the Washington Monument.
In addition to its own exhibits and immersive, personal experiences, the museum includes a number of pieces on loan from the Vatican museum and the Vatican library, as well as the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) that has a 20-year agreement with the museum to supply artifacts for the fifth-floor exhibit space, marking the first time the IAA has agreed to a permanent exhibit of artifacts outside of Israel. An entire floor of the museum is dedicated to the notable role of the Bible in the history of the United States, making it one of the great museums of American history near the Capitol.
“The museum came up with some very creative and excellent ideas,” Schirrmacher said reflecting back on the visit: “There is an exhibit dedicated to the famous hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. It tells the story of redemption of its author, the former slave trader turned Anglican pastor John Newton. And it features original record sleeves of albums by artists who covered the song, including Elvis Presley, Janice Joplin, and Bob Dylan.” Schirrmacher pointed out that historians Kelly Gannon and Kimberly Wagner described the Museum as a “testament to the power of Evangelical impulses tempered by a desire to legitimate the Bible as a centerpiece of conversation in American life,” and said: “I couldn’t agree more!”
Harry M. Hargrave is chief executive officer of the Museum of the Bible. He joined the museum in November 2019 and leads the museum’s leadership team and staff of more than 300. For more than 45 years, he worked in finance, marketing, and business operations and was an owner of HMH Capital Group, where he served as a trustee for thirteen family foundations and as chairman of the board of The Royal Gorge & Park. He also served as the owners’ representative for the development of the Museum of the Bible. In this capacity, he found the location of the museum, obtained DC approvals, and oversaw the planning and development process.
Hargrave is also chairman of the Miracle of Nazareth International Foundation and the Christian Workers Foundation. He is a founding elder of Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas.
Photos © Esther Schirrmacher