- June 11, 2017
PHILADELPHIA, Jan. 11, 2017 —A $60 million attraction with unprecedented technology will open on Independence Mall in fall 2018, highlighting how from past to present, the Bible has changed those who changed America, American Bible Society announced Wednesday.
The Faith & Liberty Discovery Center is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually, accelerating strong growth for America’s most historic square mile. The immersive experience of the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center is being led by the award-winning firm Local Projects, which recently spearheaded the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and ranks as one of the most innovative in the nation. Architectural design is being led by the Philadelphia principals of JacobsWyper Architects’ SaylorGregg Studio. Once opened, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center is projected to add over $10 million annually to Philadelphia’s economy.
“In the city where William Penn chartered religious freedom, I am excited that the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will help tell an overlooked story of our history,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “This will be a tremendous addition to Philadelphia, and an amazing experience for all our visitors.”
“We are thrilled to open this exciting new experience for Philadelphia and our nation,” American Bible Society President and CEO Roy Peterson said. “What the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center should be, at its finest, is a place that unites — celebrating a diversity of faiths, backgrounds and points of view. And ultimately, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will spark a curiosity: How did the Bible influence the people who shaped our nation? And what difference can this book make in our lives today?”
The Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will explore how core passages from the Bible on justice, liberty, mercy, and love have guided and inspired not only the authors of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but generations of Americans who have wrestled with Abolitionism, Women’s Right to Vote, Civil Rights, Hurricane Katrina and 9/11. In war and in peace, from one generation to another, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will bring to life the stories of people across a full faith spectrum who have turned to the Bible for wisdom in times of conflict, for motivation to create change, and for comfort in moments of crisis.
“This experience will use groundbreaking technologies to allow visitors to not just witness history, but participate in it. It will be like nothing anyone has seen before,” said Jake Barton, principal of the award-winning firm, Local Projects. With the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to its credit, as well as two of the 20 most influential exhibit designs this century – Gallery One at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum – Local Projects is breaking unprecedented ground with new technology that will connect visitors to the institution and beyond.
Even as details continue to be finalized, in a survey of 1,000 Americans, 59 percent said the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center would actually motivate them to come to Philadelphia, according to America’s Research Group, a consumer behavior research and strategic consulting firm. Econsult Solutions, Inc., a Philadelphia-based consulting firm, found that the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center’s construction will create 540 temporary jobs and drive $110 million in economic impact. Once open, the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center will employ about 60 people, is expected to generate $267,000 in state taxes annually and will have an economic impact of $10.5 million each year.
As the Faith & Liberty Discovery Center comes to life, a diverse committee of top historians, religious experts and legal scholars from across the nation is helping shape the narrative experience while ensuring full historical accuracy.
“There’s a fascinating intersection of religion, politics, and law in the founding of America,” said American University professor Daniel Dreisbach, whose scholarship on constitutional law and history, First Amendment law, and church-state relations has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The Bible is woven into the fabric of the American experience. You have to know something about the Bible to understand America,” said Dreisbach, author of the new book Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers. “From early colonies that were founded as Bible commonwealths to our nation’s first laws, the Bible provided basic building blocks of American civic life.”
American Bible Society CEO Roy Peterson said, “As we learn to celebrate a growing diversity of religious experiences, we realize that America had three anchoring documents– the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bible. The new exhibits will raise plenty of thought-provoking questions, but the answers will ultimately be up to each visitor to discover for themselves.”