Biblical Archaeology Review 23:5, September/October 1997

First Person: BibleWorld

America needs a museum of Biblical archaeology

By Hershel Shanks

A recent New York Times article describes the dramatic increase in the United States in what it calls “cultural tourism,” tourism that includes museums, operas, symphonies and the like. This is occurring not just in big cities, but in places you might least suspect—like Orlando, Florida, better known as the home of Disney World. Bisbee, Arizona, another example, boasts 27 art galleries, three museums and an art festival. Even Roswell, New Mexico, the article tells us, “is busily marketing its planetarium, museums, art center and the Roswell Symphony Orchestra.” Hotels in Boston and Philadelphia are offering packages that include visits to museums.

According to the former director of the Fresno Art Museum, in Fresno, California, “Cultural tourism is probably the fastest-growing kind of tourism in the country.”

This got me to thinking. There is not a single high-quality museum of Biblical archaeology in the entire United States—not even in New York. I’m not sure why.

But I’m sure there should be.

A few years ago, I tried to raise money for a Biblical archaeology museum, but got nowhere. The sums needed were too huge, the obstacles too many. And it would take a unique imagination.

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