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.)
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.
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.
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.
The MOTB grand entry hall displays signs for the exhibit.
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.
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!
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:
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.