Ever been to the Museum of Biblical Art, a Manhattan space that “celebrates and interprets art inspired by the Bible”? Better make it quick. After 10 years, the place is just months away from closing its doors.
MOBIA opened under the auspices of the American Bible Society, an organization devoted to Bible translation and distribution. In 2005, it spun off into its current entity, an independent secular and scholarly museum devoted to examining the Bible’s influence on Western art. But it has never been able to shake off its association with the Christian ministry, from which it still receives important support, including $1 annual rent on its gallery spaces and offices near Columbus Circle. The ABS’s impending move to Philadelphia would have required the museum to find a new home in Manhattan, at a cost of at least $1.5 million a year.
The association with the Jesus faith — something that Slate calls “that pesky aroma of Christianity” — was likely toxic to the museum’s long-term health.