Going on Faith

Winter 2017

The Magazine for faith-based travel planners.

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going on faith [ winter 2017 ] 28 [ M U S E U M O F T H E B I B L E ] WASHINGTON, D.C. When the Museum of the Bible opens in November 2017 in Washington, it will interpret one of the oldest texts on earth using some of the most modern technology: $42 million worth, to be exact. "We'll be on the cutting edge in innovating what a modern museum experi- ence is," said Steven Bickley, the museum's vice president of marketing. Above visitors' heads in the lobby, a 150-foot LED screen will span the ceil- ing where the museum can display anything its staff decides on, such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, nature scenes or illuminated manuscripts. Hand- held devices like smartphones will offer a map of the museum's interior, like GPS for exhibits and galleries. Using the devices, guests can choose to hear about exhibits from different perspectives — for example, from a Jewish, Catholic or Protestant perspective — or opt for a "40,000-foot explanation or go superdeep" to gain scholar-level understanding, Bickley said. In the Bible Now area, visitors can see in real time all the Bible engagement taking place around the world through YouVersion's Bible app. The museum's intent is for people of all types and backgrounds to engage with the Bible through its history, narrative and impact, and those are the museum's three main exhibit floors. More than 500 biblical texts and artifacts will be displayed on the History floor. The Impact floor will have approxi- mately 20 vignettes exploring how the Bible has affected everything from health care to fashion, criminal justice to charities. People who have designed for Disney and Universal Studios are doing the Narrative floor. Two more central exhibit floors will include the long-term international libraries and long-term international museum galleries. A 500-person theater will showcase various performances and produc- tions, and 40-foot-tall bronze doors will lead to the rooftop biblical garden. www.museumofthebible.org [ A R K E N CO U N T E R ] WILLIAMSTOWN, KENTUCKY Since opening in July, the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky, has been flooded with visitors: 400,000 of them in the first three months alone. Those numbers are almost as big as the ark itself, which is 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high, all built according to the dimensions given in the Bible. With the opening of the Ark Encounter near Answers in Genesis' other attraction, the Creation Museum, "this region has really become the destina- tion rather than part of an itinerary," said Eddie Lutz, sales and promotions representative at the Ark Encounter. When motorcoach groups arrive, a park guide boards the bus, which then drives a one-mile stretch and crests a hill, giving guests their first glimpse of the world's largest timber-frame structure. "To me, that's the highlight of the day because I can hear the gasps on the bus," Lutz said. Inside, visitors will find animal figures in their pens and learn about how they were likely cared for. Guests can also visit an imagining of Noah and his family's living quarters, "a beautiful area" where designers included personal touches among the couples' possessions. One of the most popular exhibits is the "amazingly lifelike" animatronic Noah, who will answer any of 14 ques- tions visitors key in on a touch-screen monitor. Outside, at the Ararat Ridge Zoo, guests can ride a donkey or a camel, and visit animals in the petting zoo. Officials are already expanding the zoo and just opened an animal encounter area inside the ark. Emzara's Kitchen is a 1,500- seat restaurant "that's an exhibit in and of itself," Lutz said. The dining area is filled with taxidermy, but the best seat in the house is on the second-story deck, where diners have "the bow of the ark coming right at you," he said. www.arkencounter.com [ H O LY L A N D E X P E R I E N C E ] ORLANDO, FLORIDA Recent renovations and refreshes at the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida, are intended to "get back to our roots" and make the experience more authentic, said Jane Wilcox, guest services supervisor for the Bible theme park. "We want to offer the Holy Land experience that's available in the middle of Orlando rather than going to Israel, which is a long way and a lot of money," she said. Projects included updates to the re-created Dead Sea Qumran Caves, Wilderness Tabernacle, Great Temple and Golgotha, where a guided walking tour leads guests from the site of the Crucifixion to the replica Calvary Garden Tomb. The newly renovated Jerusalem Marketplace is packed with stalls and ven- dors and provides a backdrop for live dramatic events for guests, such as live singing or a performance of "On the Road to Emmaus," which portrays when Jesus appeared as a stranger to the downcast disciples. One of the most moving moments for visitors is the park's flagship dra- matic production, which was also reworked. Originally called "The Passion" and now renamed "The Promise," the play tells of the life and ministry of Jesus from Palm Sunday through the Crucifixion. "He's inspiring us in the present day with his ministry from 2,000 years ago," Wilcox said. The park debuted several new shows after Thanksgiving, including "Love Never Fails," which tells the story of Naomi and Boaz; "Lost and Found Christmas," for younger audiences, about "the shepherd finding what he's looking for"; and "Journey to Bethlehem," set against the new marketplace backdrop. "Come to the Manger" is the park's Christmas drama that will take place at dusk on Temple Plaza in front of the towering white-and-gold replica of Solomon's temple www.holylandexperience.com Courtesy Museum of the Bible Courtesy Museum of the Bible Courtesy Christ in the Smokies Artist's renderings of the upcoming Museum of the Bible Christ in the Smokies Museum and Gardens

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