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Grand Openings at these Museums

Museum of the Bible

Washington, D.C.

As Washington continues to distance itself from religion, an enormous $500 million Museum of the Bible is moving into the neighborhood — three blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The high-tech brick-and-glass structure will be opening in November and will chronicle the history, narrative and impact of the Bible. Each of these three themes will have a floor of the museum dedicated to it, with the history floor featuring many of the great biblical discoveries: writings dating to the time of Abraham, fragments of the Dead Sea scrolls and early New Testament writings.

The roof will play host to a garden and Middle Eastern fare dating to biblical times. Executive director Tony Zeiss said the museum has gone to great lengths to present a factual, nondenominational account of the Bible, enlisting several independent consultants and scholars to help design the exhibits.

“We want all people of all ages and of all faiths to see our museum,” Zeiss said. “We aren’t a ministry, and we aren’t pushing religion.”

Organizers say they are building the most technologically advanced museum in the world. Around $42 million is going into technology alone.

“It’s not going to be your grandpa’s museum,” Zeiss said. “This goes way beyond walking over to a glass and looking down.”

Each visitor will be given a personal touring device the size of a smartphone to navigate the exhibits. The system works within six inches of accuracy throughout the 430,000-square-foot museum and allows for 3-D interactivity at several stations. The devices will also guide visitors to the best exhibits, theaters and attractions at the best times.

Another unique feature is the museum’s 500-seat performing arts hall, which uses 360-degree digital mapping to immerse guests in any given environment. The full technology package for the museum includes 384 monitors, 93 projectors and 12 theaters.

National WWII Museum

New Orleans

Already one of the most extensive and interactive war museums in the world, with three buildings dedicated to the major themes of the war, the National WWII Museum is in the midst of a $400 million expansion that will quadruple its original size. Upon completion, the museum will include seven pavilions on six acres in the heart of New Orleans.

The latest addition is a permanent exhibit that will open to the public June 10 that drops visitors into the homefront and shows them the long road to war. “We’ve shown what it was like to be in the war for years, but now we can show the sacrifices that people at home had to make,” said Michelle Moore, assistant communications director for the museum. “Visitors will get immersed in 1930s America and feel what it was like to be a nation at war.”

The new exhibit, named “The Arsenal of Democracy,” looks at prewar stories, domestic debates and how the attack on Pearl Harbor incited the nation. Other galleries in the exhibit focus on what Americans faced after the United States entered the war: propaganda, military recruitment, manufacturing and the Manhattan Project. The exhibit serves as a complement to the jungles, beaches and mountains that visitors travel as they experience the Pacific and European theaters.

Now under construction is the Canopy of Peace, which will cover and unite the museum campus.

“It’s going to be a stunning structure that changes the New Orleans skyline,” Moore said.

Ahead in the expansion are two more pavilions, including one focused on end-of-war and postwar experiences.