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Reopened Since June, Museum of the Bible Overcomes Hurdles to Welcome Families

Josh Shepherd : Aug 11, 2020  The Stream

Praised for its innovative storytelling, a massive faith-based museum in Washington, DC has undergone safety measures of Biblical proportions to reopen for visitors.

[Stream.org] A two-mile landscaped public park that defines the nation's capital city, the National Mall usually welcomes 30 million visitors every year. (Image: via Travel and Leisure)

On any other summer, after a light August rain, thousands of people emerge from under trees to resume volleyball and soccer games. Families would rush to their next stop among thirteen Smithsonian museums, which line the Mall on either side.

Yet, on early Thursday afternoon, fewer than 10 people could be seen outside the usually bustling National Air and Space Museum. It remains closed, like nearly all the Smithsonian museums.

"This is nothing!" said Nasa Tecle, owner of a food truck parked nearby the Smithsonian flagship. "It's a small fraction of the people we saw last summer. And tourists are how we work."

"Yesterday, I made $37—not enough to even pay for gas in this truck."

She has operated her food truck for six years in DC This summer, most vendors remain parked at home due to lack of demand.

"I want to work," said Tecle. "But, yesterday, I made $37. That's not enough to even pay for gas in this truck."

She continued: "I tried to do DoorDash delivery for a while, but that is hard when you have three kids."

Bible Museum Navigates City Policies to Stay Open

Washington, DC has instituted strict COVID-19 safety protocols including mandated face coverings when leaving home. The city has also placed restrictions on travelers from 27 high-risk states, affecting tourism.

"You're not allowed to come and stay unless you quarantine for two weeks," said Harry Hargrave, CEO of the Museum of the Bible.

"This has caused much of the normal activity from tourists to just not exist. We are at about 25 percent of our normal attendance."

Located two blocks from the US Capitol, the $1 billion faith-based museum reopened on June 22. Capacity has been reduced, and staff have remained COVID-free according to Hargrave.

[Last] weekend, to raise awareness of their reopening, Museum of the Bible ... sponsored a national TBN telecast with Christian music performances.

Singer/songwriter Matthew West host[ed] the special, touring through the museum in segments as it cut to songs from Mandisa, the Newsboys, and other artists.

"We are here for the sole purpose of encouraging people to pick up the Bible, read it, and get acquainted with it."

"This physical space was chosen as a strategic location," said Hargrave. "We are here for the sole purpose of encouraging people to pick up the Bible, read it, and get acquainted with it. It's an important mission, so we wanted to get back open as quickly as possible."

Still, due to low attendance, museum staff has been temporarily reduced. "Last Friday, we had to furlough 42 of our employees," he said. "It was very painful for all of us. But it will enable us to continue forward with the museum"... Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

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