American Bible Society to Close $60 Million 'Faith and Liberty' Museum in Philadelphia

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Published Mar 18, 2024
American Bible Society to Close $60 Million 'Faith and Liberty' Museum in Philadelphia

A $60 million “faith and liberty” museum that was launched by the American Bible Society in Philadelphia during the pandemic is closing.

The 25,000-square-foot Faith and Liberty Discovery Center, which opened to fanfare in 2021 as a museum to explore the role of the Bible and faith in America’s history, announced in an email to staff March 13 it was closing. The museum won awards and received rave reviews but did not get the foot traffic supporters had hoped. In 2021, the American Bible Society said the museum could receive 225,000 visitors each year to explore the “profound influence of the Bible on our nation.”

It was built in a high-profile location within view of Independence Hall, the nation’s birthplace, and was billed as “Philadelphia’s most immersive museum.”

“The FLDC as conceived was a wonderfully innovative idea,” Jennifer Holloran, the president of the American Bible Society, told staff in an email. Religion News Service cited the email and said it was obtained by Ministrywatch. “That idea came with big possibilities and requirements to allow it to be functional in the long run. Unfortunately, despite the valiant efforts of our FLDC leadership and team, we have not been able to achieve the long-term sustainability that an experience like that needs to be successful.”

A spokesperson told The Philadelphia Enquirer that the pandemic and “structural limitations” helped lead to the closing. 

“It has been an honor to serve the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center and witness the many ways it has spurred inspiration, engagement, and personal discovery over the years at the heart of Independence Mall,” said Rob Wonderling, executive director of the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center. 

The center celebrated its full grand opening during the summer of 2021 after the city of Philadelphia lifted COVID-19 restrictions. Robert L. Briggs, then-president of the American Bible Society, said in 2021 the center invited visitors to “rediscover the unique role of the Bible in the American story.” The museum featured “25,000 square feet of interactive gallery space featuring groundbreaking technology,” according to a news release. It had the backing of Mart Green of the Hobby Lobby Green family.

Indoor low-light experience at the Faith and Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, closing soon

“We’re thrilled to see the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center come to life. Our family has supported this historic endeavor from its inception, because we believe in the center’s mission to educate our nation on the significance of the Bible’s impact,” Green said in 2021. “Our hope is that as people learn more about the powerful influence of the Bible on individuals throughout American history, they’ll be inspired to read it for themselves.”

It will be open to visitors through March 28, the Inquirer said.

Images credit: Facebook / FaithandLibertyDiscoveryCenter

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.