Scripture and Science exhibit

Scripture and Science exhibit sign

This week I had the joy and delight of visiting the Museum of the Bible (MOTB) in Washington, D.C. My purpose was related to the Scripture and Science exhibit, which opened in January 2023 and will close at the end of January 2024. (Cf. the online version of the exhibit now available.)

OU Copernicus
The OU copy of Copernicus, 1543.

More specifically, I was bringing the OU copy of Nicolaus Copernicus, De revolutionibus (1543), for display in the third and final rotation of the exhibit.

Orientation video
Orientation gallery.

As seen in this photo, the exhibit entrance is on the far right edge (click the photo to enlarge it). Upon entering, an orientation video appears on a large screen in this initial space. After the video, one passes (on the left) into a hallway toward the “Universe” gallery. Straight ahead against the left wall is the Copernicus display, the first object encountered by visitors to the exhibit. This Copernicus case has held three objects in succession: in October, for the 3rd rotation, the OU De rev (annotated by a group of 16th-century astronomers in Paris) will replace a manuscript copy of the Commentariolus of Copernicus from the National Library of Austria (for the 2d rotation), which in turn replaced a copy of the De rev annotated by Galileo from the National Library of Florence (for the 1st rotation). It is a privilege to display the OU copy here for the remaining duration of the exhibit.

Two Books video
Two Books video.

The video shown in this initial space superbly introduces the entire exhibit, framing its approach in terms of the overarching theme of the Bible and science as the “two books,” one of God’s words and the other of God’s works. Watch the video online or download a zipped .mov file.

MOTB Entry hall

The MOTB grand entry hall displays signs for the exhibit.

Unpacking the Copernicus Measuring the Copernicus

We deposited the Copernicus in a secure room on Monday, the day of transport from OU. On Wednesday, after giving it time to acclimate to the new conditions, we prepared a condition report and measured it for mounting.

Ted Davis

Enjoyable conversations with Anthony Schmidt, Head of Exhibits; Wes Viner, early modern curator; and Ted Davis, the historian of science shown here, were highlights of the week indeed!

Buzz Aldrin communion chalice

In browsing the entire Museum, I didn’t expect to be able to touch a block from the Temple Mount! It is on display as part of The People of the Land exhibit, by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

A few other highlights of the Scripture and Science exhibition for me include:

Dante, Divine Comedy
Dante, manuscript of the Divine Comedy; Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.

Galileo manuscript
Galileo manuscript of telescopic observations; Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze.

Hebrew book
A discussion of Copernican cosmology in Hebrew; Jewish Theological Seminary of America (New York).

Francis Collins Bible and Nature
Francis Collins’ Bible, and his copy of an issue of Nature reporting on the Human Genome Project.

Buzz Aldrin communion chalice
The Communion chalice which Buzz Aldrin used on Apollo 11, 1969.

ET phone home
The “phone home” apparatus from the movie ET.

If these few objects intrigue you, watch the video and explore the online version of the exhibit. If you can make it to DC before it closes in January, it will be well worth your time! Would that it were possible to make it a traveling exhibit, both across America and internationally. It is certainly worthy of long-term attention.

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