Museum of the Bible to unveil world's longest illustrated Bible on National Mall

The Wiedmann Bible sits on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
The Wiedmann Bible sits on display at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. | YouTube/Museum of the Bible

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., has announced its plan to unfold a facsimile of what is believed to the world’s longest illustrated Bible along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the National Mall.

The Museum of the Bible said it will be the first to completely unveil the Wiedmann Bible in the U.S. on June 1. 

The Wiedmann Bible, completed in 2000, features a continuous illustrative narrative of the Old and New Testament in 3,333 images throughout 19 leporellos (accordion-style books).

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It was created by German artist Willy Wiedmann, known for his gallery in Stuttgart, over the span of 16 years. Unfolded, the work of art is believed to be nearly one mile long.

June's complete unveiling will require at least 1,000 volunteers, the museum estimates.

“Museum of the Bible is honored to be part of this historic event,” Museum of the Bible CEO Ken McKenzie said in a statement. “The Wiedmann Bible exhibit is one of the most popular at the museum, and yet, you can’t truly understand the artifact’s uniqueness until you see just how long it is. I encourage everyone who is able to literally reach out their hands and join me in making history on June 1.”

Wiedmann, who died in 2013, did not have the opportunity to publish his work, according to the Wiedmann Bible website. Instead, Wiedmann stored his illustrations in the attic of his gallery. 

His son, Martin Wiedmann, found four aluminum boxes that contained the leporellos when he reopened his father’s gallery.

“Since then, the Wiedmann Bible is on its way to fulfill its mission: sharing the Bible with everyone through images, thus giving them a new way to access as well as an understanding of it,” the website explains.

The original Wiedmann Bible was presented for the first time in public in the German town of Stuttgart in 2015.

The Museum of the Bible become the first entity in the U.S. to display the Wiedmann Bible when it opened up an exhibit last October. The exhibit is scheduled to run through September 2019.

A mobile app has also been launched to give users access to his father’s Bible across the globe. For the price of $4.99, the app can be downloaded to give users an interactive visual narrative of the Wiedmann Bible.

Since February 2018, the Wiedmann Bible has also been available in book form.

King's College London launched last November the Visual Commentary on Scripture website, a $2 million project designed to allow people to visually comprehend the Bible through classic and contemporary works of art. With ongoing contributions, the project aims to eventually cover every book in the Christian Bible.

Having opened in November 2017, the museum has featured a number of different temporary exhibits.

In April, the Museum of the Bible announced that it will launch a year-long exhibition that will examine the often contentious relationship between science and the Bible over the course of history thanks to millions of dollars in grants received from the John Templeton Foundation.

The exhibit looks to provide insight into six of the world’s most pressing questions: How did it all begin? What keeps the universe running? Are we different from animals? What are we made of? Where are we going? Are we alone? The exhibit also looks to refute “myths” that have emerged in the science-faith discussion debate.

The new exhibit will open in the summer of 2020.

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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