Southwesters have been watching construction work at the site of the old Design Center at 409 3rd St. SW for the last five years. As the new Museum of the Bible nears its grand opening date in November, we met with Kristina Buss who is working on the content of the new museum. Kristina and her husband are also new residents of Southwest.
Q: How did you first get interested in your dual mission of museum work and Bible study?
A: My husband and I returned from living overseas for more than 20 years and were searching for work in the DC area. I am a certified ESL teacher with experience finding creative solutions to problems in many arenas. A friend recommended me to someone working at the museum and it was a good fit.
I love the Bible and feel honored to be working here where the mission is to invite all people to engage with the Bible.
Q: What is unique about this museum compared with other religious-themed museums ?
A: The amazing use of technology, the beautiful space, and some pretty amazing artifacts. World-class scholars, consultants, and designers are all aiming to make the exhibits scholarly, entertaining, balanced, relevant, inclusive, and respectful.
Q: What have been some of the challenges in getting the museum ready? What are you the most pleased with about the way the new museum will be?
A: The challenge has been to get a 430,000-square-foot space ready in such a short amount of time! Four very talented key designers are focused on spaces within the museum, not to mention a number of digital designers and subcontractors working at the same time that construction is underway.
It is amazing how they are keeping us on track at such a break-neck pace, while at the same time our department is asking consultants to review the exhibits at every step so that we present things in the most accurate and balanced way possible. It is an intense process, but it will be well worth every effort. Everything about it is first-class!
Q: The new museum will have an industrial-style cafe to pay homage to the building’s history as a refrigerated warehouse (a historic brick warehouse constructed in the 1920’s, expanded in the 1980’s, and once leased to dozens of manufacturers and suppliers of high-end home furnishings) and a green roof to satisfy some sustainability goals for the building. What are some of the other features for guests of the museum that are special?
A: There are a number of unique features in this museum that guests will remember long after they’ve visited.
A 140-foot arcade digital ceiling features changing scenes of biblical imagery, images from the museum collections, and views of landscapes.
The flyboard ride called Washington Revelations will make guests feel as though they are flying through DC seeing biblical references in architecture.
A narrative floor will take guests experientially through the narrative of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament while a first-century village has been made to look like a town that would have existed in the days of Jesus of Nazareth.
Environmental elevators that employ forced-perspective virtual landscapes with immersive sound and video will envelope guests in subtle moving images as they ride to a beautiful rooftop garden filled with plants mentioned in the Bible.
Q: What are some of the public events planned at the new museum that we might look forward to?
A: As the first stop on its upcoming national tour, Amazing Grace, the inspirational Broadway musical, will be the first production—of any kind—to christen the new, 500-seat World Stage Theater that will utilize digital mapping technology to surround audiences in an environment that enhances what they are viewing on stage.
There will also be special guided tours, lectures and panel discussions led by experts, workshops with hands-on fun, and much more available to the public.
Q: What do you hope that visitors will take away from a visit to this museum?
A: For the visitor who loves the Bible, I hope they walk away feeling as though they have taken that love to a deeper level filled with excitement and new curiosity concerning things they hadn’t known or thought of before. For those who know little about the Bible or the skeptic, I hope each walks away with a desire to find out more. It really is an amazing book that has impacted our world like no other.
Q: What is the best way to go about getting a ticket to see the new museum?
A: Go to our website now at www.museumoftheBible.org for tickets to the Amazing Grace production. General admission will be similar to other museums in the area. You can come by and get tickets in person, reserve them through our website, or arrange a special group tour on our website. That information will be available online in the coming weeks. Once you fall in love with our museum, you’ll want to become a member to take full advantage of all the museum has to offer throughout the year.

By: Sheila Wickouski

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