American Bible Society Will Close Its $60 Million Museum

The Bible museum on Independence Mall in Philadelphia was open less than three years and had attracted fewer visitors than projected.

American Bible Society announced it will shutter its Faith and Liberty Discovery Center (FLDC), a Bible museum it invested more than $60 million into, after less than three years in operation.

ABS had projected that the museum, centrally located on Independence Mall in Philadelphia, would draw 250,000 visitors a year. The revenue from ticket sales for the museum show a much lower number, maybe as low as 5,400 visitors in fiscal year 2022 (the museum’s program revenue was $54,000 and full-priced tickets cost $10).

ABS’s new CEO Jennifer Holloran, arriving last month to an organization with a variety of financial and missional troubles, said in an email to staff on Wednesday that she and the board had agreed at their February meeting that “now is the time to proceed with this difficult but necessary action.” She quoted Ecclesiastes 3, writing that “everything that happens in this world happens at the time of God’s choosing.”

“The FLDC as conceived was a wonderfully innovative idea,” she wrote to staff. “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.”

The museum opened in May 2021 when venues were still experiencing pandemic ripple effects, but it never rebounded like other places. CT visited the museum last month and only three visitors trickled in over a two-hour span.

ABS described FLDC as a $60 million museum when it launched in 2021, and it had $11 million in expenses in fiscal year 2022. ABS’s 2023 stewardship report …

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