Museum of the Bible, Inc.


Museum of the Bible

Washington, District of Columbia

430,000 gsf 40,000 m2

Architecture, Engineering, Interior Architecture, Lighting Design


Developing a design for the new Museum of the Bible came with several intriguing challenges. The client wished to create a singular, memorable visitor experience focusing on the history, narrative, and impact of the Bible, supported by a collection of biblical antiquities, rare texts, and other artifacts. For its site, the museum founders selected an imposing refrigerated warehouse large enough to receive train cars. As a newly designated 1922 landmark within blocks of the National Mall, renovations to the “flat-iron” building were subject to intense scrutiny from multiple review boards.

The building remains an important element in the new design; along with a new vertical infill addition and a rooftop addition, the design creates a compelling setting befitting the museum’s collection. The train portal is reopened to serve as the museum’s colossally scaled entrance. It is punctuated by a stained glass window displaying a portion of the Great Isaiah Scroll, framed by bronze panels recalling the cold-press type of the Gutenberg Bible. The internal train loading bay is recast as a main lobby arcade, with monumental Jerusalem stone columns and LED displays dominating the 40-foot-high, 140-foot-long ceiling. Atop the building, a scroll of glazing clads a two-story addition housing a theater and ballroom, offering panoramic views of the U.S. Capitol and National Mall.

Related Content

Architect David Greenbaum speaks to The Washington Post
SmithGroupJJR’s David Greenbaum discusses the challenges of building a museum about the Bible

Museum of the Bible in Architectural Record
Architectural Record discusses the Museum of the Bible’s design

Museum of the Bible: Collections & Content
Steve Green, chairman of the Museum of the Bible’s board, discusses his plans for the museum with the Washington Post