This fall, the American Bible Society will begin construction on the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center on Philadelphia's Independence Mall, which will highlight how, from past to present, the Bible has changed those who changed America.
"We are thrilled to open this exciting new experience for Philadelphia and our nation," American Bible Society President and CEO Roy Peterson said. "What the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center should be, at its finest, is a place that unites -- celebrating a diversity of faiths, backgrounds and points of view. And ultimately, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will spark a curiosity: How did the Bible influence the people who shaped our nation? And what difference can this book make in our lives today?"
According to a Faith and Liberty Center, the $60 million project, opening in 2018, "will explore how core passages from the Bible on justice, liberty, mercy, and love have guided and inspired not only the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but generations of Americans who have wrestled with Abolitionism, Women's Right to Vote, Civil Rights, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11."
American Bible Society CEO Roy Peterson said, "As we learn to celebrate a growing diversity of religious experiences, we realize that America had three anchoring documents- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bible. The new exhibits will raise plenty of thought-provoking questions, but the answers will ultimately be up to each visitor to discover for themselves."
Using unprecedented technology, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will also "bring to life the stories of people across a full faith spectrum who have turned to the Bible for wisdom in times of conflict, for motivation to create change, and for comfort in moments of crisis." Among the artifacts included in the center will be the first English Bible printed in America and Helen Keller's Bible.
The highly-anticipated center, which will be 40,000 square feet, 25,000 of exhibition space, is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually, and projected to add over $10 million annually to Philadelphia's economy. It's being led by the award-winning firm Local Projects, which recently spearheaded the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and ranks as one of the most innovative in the nation.
"In the city where William Penn chartered religious freedom, I am excited that the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will help tell an overlooked story of our history," said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. "This will be a tremendous addition to Philadelphia, and an amazing experience for all our visitors."
Meanwhile, another Christian-inspired structure, the Museum of the Bible, is slated to open in the fall of 2017. The museum, a project of Hobby Lobby President Steve Green, is being constructed just three blocks from the U.S. Capitol, and plans to house one of the world's largest collections of ancient biblical scrolls, codices, papyrus fragments and other historical artifacts.
The eight-floor facility with 40-foot bronze doors will feature over 40,000 biblical manuscripts owned by the Green family. It will also house a 500-seat theater, a 100-seat lecture hall, a restaurant, gardens, and a Nazareth village.
"The History Floor will feature more than 500 world-class artifacts that document the Bible's preservation, translation, and transmission across centuries and cultures," the website for the project outlines. "This floor features many of the greatest biblical discoveries, including writings dating to the time of Abraham, fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, early New Testament writings, and more."
"The Impact Floor will explore the Bible's impact over time on cultures, civilization, and daily life, including its profound influence on fine arts, science, government, and more," it explains.