An engaging traveling exhibit of Scripture-related artifacts and interactive displays offers a foretaste of the huge Museum of the Bible in Washington

By Patrick Mott, Editor, Orange County Catholic     5/30/2015

In two years, a huge museum dedicated entirely to the Bible will open in Washington, D.C. Located two blocks from the National Mall and three blocks from the Capitol, the 430,000-square-foot, eight-story Museum of the Bible will be a repository for thousands of artifacts, and will present the Bible’s impact, history and narrative through a series of high-tech exhibits, immersive settings and interactive experiences.

Like the nearby Smithsonian Institute and Air and Space Museum, the Museum of the Bible is expected to have a substantial wow factor.

That’s for 2017. For Southern California families who want to get a taste of what the museum will be like, and they want to do it now, the Passages exhibit in Santa Clarita figures to provide a significant appetizer.

Passages is a 30,000-square-foot interactive traveling exhibit, presented by the Museum of the Bible, which features approximately 400 rare artifacts and chronicles the history of the Bible in four distinct subject areas: transmission, translation, impact and controversy. The exhibit was launched in 2011 in Oklahoma City and has since traveled to Atlanta, Charlotte, Colorado Springs and Springfield, Mo. It is in Santa Clarita through February 2016.

Among the highlights of the four subject areas:

  • A reproduction of Johann Gutenberg’s print shop with a working replica of his press will be featured in the “Transmission” section, along with a microfiche copy of the Bible that landed on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission. Actual fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls also are displayed in a replica of a section of the caves of Qumran, where the scrolls were discovered.
  • In the “Translation” area are displayed a first edition of the King James Bible, printed in 1611, an exhibit honoring Saint Jerome (who spent 30 years translating the Bible in to Latin from the original Hebrew and Greek texts), and an exhibit of the medieval Khabouris Codex.
  • An original manuscript of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe is on display in the “Impact” section.
  • A presentation of a hypothetical debate between influential 16th century Christian leaders is part of the Reformation Theatre in the “Controversy” section. A letter written by Martin Luther on the night before he was charged with heresy also is on display, as is a Holocaust exhibit showing how Jewish Torah scrolls were desecrated by the Nazis, even as the desecrators justified their actions with certain Bible texts.


“Wild World of the Bible,” a section of the museum designed specifically for children, offers personal audio tours narrated by children and features interactive exhibits about the parting of the Red Sea by Moses and life on Noah’s Ark, among others.

The Passages exhibit is open every day but Monday and major holidays and is located at 26565 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. For more information call (888) 297-8011 or go to ExplorePassages.com.