Be sure to visit the new Museum of the Bible while visiting Washington, D.C. The huge museum contains one of the largest collections of Bible artifacts in the world, and it is located only two blocks from the National Mall. In the technologically-advanced museum, guests can “fly” above Washington, D.C. to view Bible verses on many of the famous buildings, see Bibles owned by Thomas Jefferson and other Presidents of the United States, and walk through educational exhibits while learning about the history of the Bible, the world’s best-selling book.
Use this guide to plan your visit. Be sure to see these nine highlights of the Museum of the Bible. Get timed tickets in advance to make sure you can visit the popular museum on the day and time of your choice. Note the recommended times for visiting the Hebrew Bible Experience and Washington Revelations due to popularity of these attractions. Be sure to listen to the accompanying podcast by clicking on the audio bar at the end of this post for even more details about visiting the Museum of the Bible.
Enter the museum through the 40-foot Gutenberg Bible doors. The doors are giant-sized replicas of a page of the Gutenberg Bible.
After you walk through the doors, you will go through security, and your bags will be x-rayed in color-coded state of the art containers that are quite unique! Then, inside the lobby look 40 feet above you to see the 140-foot long LED mural above depicting scenes from illuminated Bible manuscripts, nature, art, and architecture that scroll through the Grand Hall Ceiling on a rotating basis.
The mission of the museum is “to invite all people to engage with the Bible.” Visitors engage with original Bible artifacts, reproductions, and technology while learning about the Bible.
The Museum of the Bible is divided into seven floors with exhibits highlighting the impact of the Bible on the United States and on the world, stories of the Bible, and history of the Bible. There are also high-quality special exhibits presented in the basement and in exhibit spaces throughout the museum. On the 1st Floor, there is a collection on display from the Vatican Museums and Vatican Library in Italy. Movies, shows and performances are presented in the large World Stage Theater on the 5th Floor. While it would be almost impossible to see and do everything available in one visit, following are nine highlights that you will not want to miss!
The Hebrew Bible Experience
If possible, begin your day at the earliest possible admission time and head straight to the Hebrew Bible Experience. This popular 30-minute walk-through attraction is located on the 3rd Floor. The focus of the exhibits on this floor is “The Stories of the Bible”. Guests are admitted every five to seven minutes in groups of up to 40 people to encounter narratives from the Hebrew Bible, including the stories of Noah’s ark, the burning bush, and the Passover, walking from room-to-room. Some of the rooms have benches for seating. A couple of the rooms might be scary for very small children. For example, one of the rooms is immersed in total darkness for a few seconds as you experience one of the stories of the Old Testament.
Note: If the line is long for the Hebrew Bible Experience, it could be that a large group is ahead of you. If so, move on Washington Revelations and come back after you experience that attraction.
Washington Revelations, on the 2nd Floor, is another popular attraction in the Museum of the Bible. During this five-minute “ride” guests hold on to a bar while a simulator tilts back and forth and side to side as riders “fly” over and through famous monuments, memorials, and buildings of Washington, D.C. Guests see where Bible verses are “hidden in plain sight” all over Washington, D.C., including the Lincoln Memorial, the Supreme Court Building, and the United States Capitol. It is a fun, exciting, and informative ride.
Washington Revelations requires a separate ticket, but the $8 per person price is worth it. Tickets can be purchased in advance, but it is easy to purchase a ticket from the booth at the entrance to the attraction on the 2nd Floor of the museum. Like the Hebrew Bible Experience, try to visit this popular attraction early in the day to avoid the crowds. If the line is long, purchase your tickets for a definite time later in the day to guarantee admission at that time.
The Bible in America Exhibit
Stay on the 2nd Floor to continue to explore the “Impact of the Bible on America”. The following two-minute video highlights some of the important artifacts in this exhibit, including one of Billy Graham’s Bibles, a slave Bible, the Bible that likely came to America on The Mayflower with the Pilgrims, and a 3,200 pound replica of the Liberty Bell. Just click on the video arrow at the top of this page:
Bibles of United States Presidents
Visit the “Bible in the World” exhibit, also on the 2nd Floor, to explore the impact of the Bible on the entire world. In the “Government” section, look for the display case with the Bible that George H.W. Bush kept on the Presidential Airplane, Air Force One. Also, look for the childhood Bible of Donald Trump that was used at his inauguration in January of 2017.
World of Jesus of Nazareth
Return to the 3rd Floor, where you participated in the walk-through Hebrew Bible Experience, to visit the “World of Jesus of Nazareth”. Or, if the museum is not crowded, make this your second stop after the Hebrew Bible Experience and before you move to the 2nd Floor for Washington Revelations and viewing the Impact of the Bible exhibits.
In the “World of Jesus of Nazareth” you will enter a replica of a first century village in Galilee, see villages as they go about their life, and hear them tell stories about this time. According to the museum’s website, the goal of the exhibit is to help visitors learn about the “context of Jesus’ teachings and experience the cultural and social dynamics of this village in Galilee.” This is one of the few places in the museum where the focus is primarily on the life of Jesus, so Christians will especially want to visit this part of the museum.
Drive Thru History of the Bible Theater
The 4th Floor highlights “The History of the Bible”. The Drive Thru History of the Bible Theater features a short, entertaining film. Dave Stotts drives through the places and events of the Bible, preparing visitors to discover the Bible’s history. Start your visit of the 4th Floor here, if possible.
Dead Sea Scroll Fragment
Next, visit the “The History of the Bible Artifacts” exhibit, also on the 4th Floor and look for the Dead Sea Scroll Fragment near the middle of the exhibit. This fragment is believed to be part of the amazing Old Testament find, located between 1947 and 1956 from caves in the Middle East, of almost every book in the Hebrew Bible. Researchers, though, continue to work to definitively determine its origin.
First Edition of the King James Bible New Testament
In the same “History of the Bible Artifacts” exhibit, look for the first edition of the King James Bible New Testament from the year 1611. It is believed to be one of only two first editions to still in existence today.
First Edition Gutenberg Bible Page
“The History of the Bible Artifacts” exhibit, also on the 4th Floor, features a first edition Gutenberg Bible page and a replica of a printing press. A staff member periodically demonstrates how the Bible first went to print in the town of Mainz, Germany, with the Gutenberg printing press.
More Highlights of Museum of the Bible
There is so much more to see and do at the Museum of the Bible. On the 1st Floor, the Vatican Museums and Library features a number of artifacts on loan from the Vatican in Rome. Also on the 1st Floor, the Courageous Pages interactive exhibit for children focusing on the theme of “courage”.
The original draft of the Battle Hymn of the Republic is located on the 2nd Floor. Elvis Presley’s Bible is on display on the 2nd Floor near the “Bible Now” section.
Learn about ancient Israel on the 5th Floor where “The People of the Land: History and Archaeology of Ancient Israel” exhibit displays archaeological discoveries from the Israel Antiquities Authority. On the 6th Floor, stroll through the Rooftop Garden to see some of the plant varieties mentioned in the Bible. Also on the 6th Floor, stroll down the long glass-enclosed promenade for a great view of the United States Capitol from the corridor.
Museum of the Bible Website
The museum has an excellent website with details of additional highlights of the permanent collection, an interactive map, and information about special temporary exhibitions. Access the official museum website here: https://www.museumofthebible.org
The Museum of the Bible is open daily from 10 am until 5 pm, except it is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. The museum will close at 4 pm on Christmas Eve. From April 1 through June 30, the museum is open until 6 pm. Large groups and museum members may be admitted at 9 am. Arrive 15 minutes before your ticketed time to go through security.
The popular museum requires timed tickets for admission. There are a limited number of walk-up tickets available for purchase, but reserve tickets in advance to be sure you will be able to get in on the day and time of your choice. Tickets are free, but donations of $15 per adult and $10 per child are strong suggested. The museum receives no public funding, so it is entirely funded by Museum of the Bible visitors, members, and donors.
If you plan to see most or all of the exhibits of the museum, plan to begin your day at 10 am. Tickets can also be reserved for the Washington Experience attraction for $8 per person when booking entrance tickets. Washington Experience tickets can also be purchased on the day of your visit. Reserve tickets up to six months in advance at the official Museum of the Bible ticket link here:
Individual museum membership is $60 annually and $150 per family. Members receive special benefits, including discounts in the museum shop and restaurants. Members can also book tickets to the museum up to one year in advance. Members can visit the museum one hour before non-member guests, beginning at 9 am, although large groups may be allowed to enter as early as 9 am.
Manna is located on the 6th Floor of the museum. The menu is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine from chef Todd Gray, co-founder of the popular Equinox Restaurant. The fast-casual restaurant offers fish, lamb, falafel, pistachio and golden lentil hummus; flatbreads with fig and walnut toppings, grain bowls, and stews. Menu items range from $4.99 for soup to $16.99 for lamb.
Milk + Honey Café is located on the Mezzanine overlooking the soaring lobby, near the entrance and the Museum Shop. It features sandwiches, individual pizzas, salads, hummus with pita chips, soft serve ice cream, yogurt, baked goods, and coffee selections. Prices are reasonable.
Second Sunday Gospel Brunch Special Experience
On the second Sunday of each month, Manna offers a special Sunday Gospel Brunch from noon – 3 p.m. The $24.99 brunch features a Mediterranean buffet with a southern flare with DJ Aarock spinning family-friendly hip-hop and gospel sounds. Make reservations via by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to Museum of the Bible – Dining:
The large Museum Shop is open daily from 10 am until 5 pm. It is located on the 1st Floor near the main entrance. It offers gifts from around the world, including reproductions, sculptures, jewelry, books, toys, games, and stationery.
Museum of the Bible Location
The Museum of the Bible is located four blocks from the United States Capitol and two blocks from the National Mall at 400 4th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024. It located in the same block as the Federal Center SW Metro station. The station is on the Orange, Blue and Silver Metro lines. The museum has no public parking, but there are a few, expensive public parking lots within walking distance.
As a Christian, I am always looking to visit places when I travel that help me grow in my faith. I enjoyed visiting the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., and I believe that anyone interested in the history of world religions and/or historical artifacts would enjoy it, too. Let me know your thoughts!
If you are interested in my other Washington, D.C. posts and podcasts, check them out here:
Remember to click on the audio bar below to hear the accompanying podcast for even more of my personal reflections. Until next time, I hope all of your travel days are just perfect!
Podcast: One Perfect Day in Travel