I'm looking for...



Happening:
Anytime
to
Near:
Anywhere
That is
Anything

National Bible Museum? In Dallas? Naturally, It's Gonna Be Huge


by Jerome Weeks 22 Mar 2010

Over at Unfair Park, Jim Schutze reports that Scott Carroll, a history professor at the interdenominational Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Don Shipman, the son of a Cleburne pastor, have been busily buying up millions and millions of dollars’ worth of rare Bibles and manuscripts for a planned museum in Dallas — not […]

CTA TBD

Over at Unfair Park, Jim Schutze reports that Scott Carroll, a history professor at the interdenominational Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Don Shipman, the son of a Cleburne pastor, have been busily buying up millions and millions of dollars’ worth of rare Bibles and manuscripts for a planned museum in Dallas — not to mention acquiring some 22 acres in downtown Dallas.

The plans are ambitious, even gargantuan — as Cornerstone University’s newspaper, The Herald indicated two years ago:

Warren Van Kampen, retired optometrist and friend of Carroll, said that “nothing has been tried on this scope.” Van Kampen’s brother originally had a dream similar to Carroll’s, but it was in the form of a private collection. Currently, the Van Kampen Collection is the largest private collection of artifacts and manuscripts related to the Bible.

“We are in the final stages of acquiring a 900,000 square foot facility that sits on 22 acres in downtown Dallas,” said Carroll. The building will cost $300 million and is being paid for by a family that Carroll is working with, whose name he declined to disclose.

“There will be 20 halls, each half the size of a football field,” said Carroll. Each hall will contain artifacts and illustrations of the preservation of the Bible during a different period of history. Carroll said a donor is willing to build exact replicas of as many ancient monuments as the museum wants.

For comparison’s sake, the Dallas Museum of Art is only 350,000-square feet.  And note the last lines about “replicas of ancient monuments.” There’s something about the Bible that can bring out the Cecil B. DeMille in people. Dallas’ Biblical Arts Center has been rebuilding from a devastating 2005 fire, for instance – and current plans include a Damascus Gate and a Golden Ziggurat.

SHARE
  • Alan

    Where could this site be? Can’t think offhand of any existing building of that scope all at ground level short of the Convention Center. But perhaps it will be spread out on multiple floors. Who knows?

  • I had the same thought — it’s the combination, really, of building and land that has me flummoxed. Notice it says they’re ACQUIRING A FACILITY, which suggests it’s already built and they’re going to add to it or renovate the whole thing. I can think of buildings that big (quite a few downtown towers and warehouses). But then there’s the question of 22 ACRES of land. I mean, it could be in the Cedars or Deep Ellum or Exposition Park and still quality as “downtown Dallas,” but those 22 acres means a hefty slab of property.

  • skeptical dallasite

    First, a point of order: Why did the author of the blog article choose “interdenominational” as the one adjective to describe Cornerstone? On Cornerstone’s own website, they refer to themselves first as “a Christ-centered university”, and only later on the page as “interdenominational”. So why not simply call them “a Christian university”? Is “interdenominational”, standing alone, supposed to mean something different? Is the author subtly trying to burnish the bona fides of the professor by saying that he teaches at an “interdenominational” school, or just trying to avoid pigeonholing the museum as a Christian-only undertaking?

    More importantly, what does this project sound like to you – an institution of true academic import of which Dallas could be proud, where researchers from around the world come to study ancient texts? Or an embarassing creationist six flags like you’d find in rural Kentucky, with displays of caucasian boys and girls playing “ring around the t-rex”? I’ve got my suspicions.

  • Skeptical:

    I plugged in “interdenominational” simply because I thought labeling Cornerstone “Christian” was so generic, it didn’t convey much. When I read “Christian” on their site, I immediately wondered what that meant — Baptist? Methodist? Biblical literalist? What? Unfortunately, my quick scan didn’t come up with any other term — besides “interdenominational.”

    So my use of the term was not some craven attempt to “burnish the professor’s bona fides” or sneak Cornerstone’s Christian basis and/or possible political allegiances past the reader.

    Secondly, my reference to Cecil B. DeMille should, I think, indicate my own (milder) scepticism about any museum that, apparently, is going to be this big (20 halls?) and whose founders are touting their commitment to “replicas of ancient monuments.” Even just going around buying up rare manuscripts and then putting them on display does not a serious museum make.

  • skeptical dallasite

    Fair enough. When I read “interdenominational” I think of something broader than “christian”, so that’s the disconnect. Jim Schutze didn’t mention that Cornerstone is a christian university either, and referred to Carroll as “biblical expert”. I understand wanting to be fair and to reserve judgment, but, now that the story is out, hopefully someone in the local press will dig into it a little and get some facts about the project and the prime movers behind it. If it turns out to be a serious enterprise, then fine. But if it turns out to be an embarassing creationist circus, and it’s 22 acres and 900,000 sq ft in downtown Dallas, then at some point it will be appropriate for thoughtful, educated people in the community to express their reasonable opinions about not wanting a giant monument to ignorance in the center of their city.

  • 7th Art

    Everyone is more than justified in having serious reservations vis-a-vis the creation of any Christian/christian museum, research facility etc. The shameful Holy Land Experience in Orlando, to say nothing of the Creation museum in Kentucky, have nearly obliterated any potential for credibility and non-extremism.

    That said, I’m intimately acquainted with several of the key players in the development and can say with 100% certainty that the museum will be, first and foremost, a center where scholarship and intellectual credulity are of the utmost importance. No crucifixion re-enactments, no Chick tracks, no revisionist history…nothing but the world’s leading curators, exhibition specialists, and so on in concert with some of the best holdings in the world. For an endeavor like this to succeed, the creators cannot strive for anything but the utmost professionalism, cultural sensitivity, historical acuity etc. Anything less would be irresponsible, to say nothing of deleterious to the museum’s commitment to intellectual integrity.