Tony Zeiss on the upcoming dedication and opening of the Museum of the Bible scheduled this November ~
Visitors will “want to have a pilgrimage back and forth. We have over 1,500 groups already have signed up. These are bus loads of … Some of them up to 400 in a group down to 20 in a group that are coming. November, we open November the 17th, we dedicate it. We open November 18th of this year.”
A Ockershausen: This is Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen and delighted to have the executive director of the Museum of the Bible, Tony Zeiss. Now, I will guarantee you, Tony, that that is gonna be the first time that 80% of these people ever heard the word, “the Museum of the Bible.” I am absolutely a native. I’ve been in here all my life. I did not know what it was ’til Janice showed it to me one day. So welcome to Our Town. We want to hear all about your museum.
Tony Zeiss: Good. I’m pleased to be here, and I can’t wait to tell you about the museum.
A Ockershausen: To me, it almost like, I knew it was a design center. I had no idea what it was going on there, and went down Fourth Street ’til Janice point … We were going to a baseball game. She said, “That’s gonna be the Museum of the Bible.” I said, “What Bible?” She said, “Our Bible.” Tony, believe me. I did not know, and I’m so, so pleased to meet you and so pleased to hear about the Museum of the Bible.
Tony Zeiss: Good. Well, I’m very pleased to be here, and we just … My wife and I have been here about nine months, and we love this city. It’s a large city, the most active city, probably, in the world, and yet it still has that small town feel. We like it.
A Ockershausen: Our Town, to us, to Janice and I, because we were both from here, and we consider Our Town Annapolis, Vienna, Virginia, part of Fredericksburg, Frederick, Maryland. They all, everybody revolves around Our Town. This is the capital city of the world in a lot of ways, and we’re so fortunate to have you here and so fortunate that you could bring this museum here.
Tony Zeiss: Well, let me tell you about it. I’m an educator by trade, and I’ve been very, very fortunate-
A Ockershausen: Community College.
Tony Zeiss’ Journey to the Museum of the Bible
Tony Zeiss: Yes. I was a president for 32 years in Colorado and then 24 … Eight years in Colorado, 24 or so in Charlotte, which is my home. And so I was-
A Ockershausen: How’d you get from Charlotte to Colorado and back?
Tony Zeiss: Thank you. Well, we went from Texas to Colorado to North Carolina, and then I was gonna retire as a Community College President. In fact, I did. Of course, I prayed about it, and said, “Lord, whatever you want us to do next let us know.” Well, he did. In a day and a half I got a call and they said, “We need an executive director to come up and build this new world-class Bible. It’s never been done before, Andy. World-class museum to the Bible. And so I was intrigued, but I tried to wiggle out of it. I said, “I’m trying to retire,” and they said, “No. You don’t get it. You’re the person. We need someone with leadership background” and all that.
A Ockershausen: Educational background.
Tony Zeiss: Education background. And so I retired December 31st of this past year and January the 3rd I started my first day here.
A Ockershausen: That was the next day.
The impetus for the Museum of the Bible
Tony Zeiss: Yeah. But what an honor and what a wonderful mission if you think about it. Now, this case started with the Green family. That’s a Hobby Lobby family. And one of the Greens, Steven Green, began collecting biblical artifacts. And it became a passion with him like it does with so many collectors. And he began to say, “They shouldn’t be just for us. They shouldn’t be in a warehouse someplace.
A Ockershausen: We shouldn’t keep them hidden.
Tony Zeiss: So he started some traveling exhibits to see if people would be interested in artifacts from the Bible. They went basically all over the world to Israel. They went to the Vatican twice. They even went to Cuba. They went all over the US. They came to Charlotte. We went, took my grandkids to see it. And so out of that, they said, “This was so successful, why don’t we think really big, and let’s build a museum, the first world-class museum.” Now, we don’t advocate a religion. We don’t advocate any doctrine. The Bible is the book of many faiths.
A Ockershausen: Oh, boy. Is it.
Tony Zeiss: So we’ve got, of course, as we call the Old Testament, the Hebrew Bible, the protestant testament, the Catholic testament, they have the apocrypha, a few more books than the protestant Bible. There’s the Ethiopian Bible. They have a couple of books we don’t have. It goes on about seven of them. So that’s what we want to do. Our mission is to engage people, all people, with the Bible, its history, its narrative, the stories, and its impact. No other book has had an impact on civilization, especially western civilization as this book.
A Ockershausen: The greatest story ever told.
Tony Zeiss: I should write a book. That’s a great book title.
A Ockershausen: That’s right. Maybe we’ll make a movie out of it, too, huh? Well, Tony, it’s just so inspiring to me that it’s so great. Why did you or the family pick Washington DC?
On Building the Museum of the Bible in Our Town
Tony Zeiss: Well, they took … That’s a great question, Andy. They did some surveys. Dallas was the closest big town, because they’re out of Oklahoma City. So they said, “Let’s look at Dallas, let’s look at New York City, and let’s look at Washington DC. They hired a outside agency to do all the surveys. It came back. It said very clearly, “This museum should be in our capital city. It should be in Washington DC, the city of museums.”
A Ockershausen: Why would the survey ask that? I mean, did they lead people into saying Washington?
Tony Zeiss: I don’t have any idea.
A Ockershausen: How did that work?
Tony Zeiss: I don’t know. It was before my time.
A Ockershausen: Lobbyists want to come here and big companies don’t want to. They want to be in the spotlight. But in your case, this is such a great thing for Our Town.
Tony Zeiss: Oh, it is.
A Ockershausen: I don’t know how it happened, but-
Tony Zeiss: Well, I think part of it had to do with the Smithsonian. You know, there are like 18 of them, and they’re all free, and they attract people. People want to bring their children to the capital city, and then they, of course, go to the Smithsonian. So I think it was, “Look, let’s, at the same time, they’ve got a great audience coming there every year. Let’s play on that.”
A Ockershausen: You almost got a ready-made audience if you could get to them. Now, I would understand, because I see you’re right down to me that goes by the Indian Museum, and then I go onto the railroad track, and there’s your museum.
Tony Zeiss: That’s right. Two blocks away.
A Ockershausen: And it’s right here in Our Town. It’s fabulous.
Tony Zeiss: Right. It’s two blocks south of the mall, three and half blocks sort of southwest of the capital. And so the metro station … It’s at a metro station, yeah.
On Finding and Building the Museum of the Bible
A Ockershausen: It’s almost like a ready-made building, and then you hired Clark, or you didn’t hire him, but the family did, Jim Clark.
Tony Zeiss: Clark. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Great construction company. In fact-
A Ockershausen: And Jim Clark died. He was a good friend of ours.
Tony Zeiss: Oh, well he’s . ..
A Ockershausen: Great guy.
Tony Zeiss: He left a great legacy-
A Ockershausen: Yes, he did.
Tony Zeiss: … Because they have done a wonderful job. Listen to this, Andy. They’ve had 500 construction workers a day working on that building, renovating it for two and half years. It’s a big project.
It’s a $500 million project and a huge building. It’ll be the largest nonprofit museum in Washington DC and the third largest overall, but it’s really not about the size. It’s about the cause, and that is to get people engaged with the Bible.
A Ockershausen: It’ll still be free admission?
Tony Zeiss: Free admission. Suggested donations, of course, because we gotta raise about $36 million to operate-
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. There’s a lot of difference between free and suggested donations.
Tony Zeiss: Yeah.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: What’s remarkable to me, Tony, I was lucky enough to be at a luncheon.
Tony Zeiss: That’d be Janice Ockershausen.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Yeah. Lucky enough to be invited to the luncheon that you had a couple of months ago. And what was remarkable, and it was the smile of knowing and of power in that smile that said, “It took them five years. What other entity could get something like this done in five years?” And that’s remarkable.
Tony Zeiss: It is remarkable. In fact, I think somebody had his hand in that, because there’s almost no other explanation. You can’t even buy a building like that in five years. It was so-
A Ockershausen: Not in Washington DC.
Tony Zeiss: Not in Washington DC, and we found it, and it was built in 1923. It was the first refrigerated warehouse in Washington DC. A train used to drive in there and drop off commodities and meat in ice and things like that.
A Ockershausen: With ice machines in there. I know what you mean.
Tony Zeiss: Well, anyway, it was perfect for us, because it’s well-built. We took out every other floor. It was about 16 stories. It’s now eight stories. So we had height for the exhibits. I can’t wait to tell you about some of the attractions. Could I do that?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Yes.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. We’re gonna take a break here now, Tony, and get into this, but when you said free admission that made me think, “Maybe I gotta go to see that museum.” This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
This is Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen. Talking . . . conversation with Tony Zeiss, who’s new to Our Town, but has adopted us as something special. He’s found out how great Our Town is and how big it is, but it’s a small town. And Tony was fortunate enough to come to Our Town to run the Museum of the Bible. And Tony, the more I hear about it the more I’m in love with it.
State of the Art Technology and Museum Attractions
Tony Zeiss: Well, it’s an exciting thing. Our purpose is real simple. It’s to engage all people with the Bible. We’re a global, and we’re an innovative, and we’re an educational institution, and what we want to do is get people engaged with the Bible, its history, its narrative, and its impact. We do this through lots of exhibits, and most of them are highly technical and highly interactive. I know as an educator, former educator, that the more you can engage people, the better they learn. So the more you have them doing rather than just listening, then the better they learn. So we have $42 million of technology in this museum alone.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: So it’s not-
A Ockershausen: It’s not just an empty hall.
Tony Zeiss: No, no, no. And it’s not a one and done museum. We’ve estimated that the average person, if he or she reads everything and looks at every video and goes on every attraction, it will take them eight days to go through this museum. So there’s something-
A Ockershausen: That’s a museum.
Tony Zeiss: They’ll want to have a pilgrimage back and forth. We have over 1,500 groups already have signed up. These are bus loads of … Some of them up to 400 in a group down to 20 in a group that are coming. November, we open November the 17th, we dedicate it. We open November 18th of this year.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: November’s already basically sold out except we held tickets back for people who want to … Particularly from here who want to come and see it, but they will have to get a time ticket. They’ll have to go online even though they’re free. And the reason is, we want to stop the crowding where they have line up and they have to wait for two hours. So it’s just like the African American Museum. Same thing.
A Ockershausen: During our holiday period, you will be very busy during the Christmas season.
Tony Zeiss: Yes, we will. In fact, we … And listen to this. We’ve got a theater in this museum. It’s like no other theater I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been in theater all my life. It’s 470 people. So it’s intimate, but what’s unique about it is that it is, we think, the first museum to have indoor video mapping. Which means the walls and the ceiling can have video on them that corresponds to the scene that’s going on on the stage. And so you’re immersed completely. So we’re gonna have Amazing Grace, the musical, the Broadway musical from New York. Amazing Grace will open here for the first eight weeks. They’ll be there. So anyone can sign up. Go online right now. You can get your tickets. They have matinees, I think, on the weekends but then otherwise-
A Ockershausen: Like regular theater, then.
Tony Zeiss: Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’ll be great. And you’ll come to the museum. You’ll go up to the fifth floor to that theater. Now, Amazing Grace. Imagine, John Newton was a slave ship … And he wrote the song. Before he had conversion experience, he was a slave ship owner. Well, you can imagine these singers on the slave ship, and then on the side of you the video is the ocean rolling and the top is the, of course, sea gulls and maybe an albatross.
A Ockershausen: It’s so much like 3D. You can be a part of the program.
Tony Zeiss: Oh, it is. It’s amazing. So that gives you one-
A Ockershausen: Oh, that’s gonna be wonderful.
Tony Zeiss: When you walk into the building, we’ve got two six-ton bronze reliefs on the outside right by the doors.
A Ockershausen: The doors are bronze, too, are they not?
Tony Zeiss: They are not, but these are … The people think this-
A Ockershausen: Think they are, right.
Tony Zeiss: But they’re not. It’s really these reliefs. But they have Genesis 1 right out of the Gutenberg Bible. It’s in Latin, so it’s difficult to read, but it’s in print type, the printing press. That’s quite impressive, but when you walk right in to this entrance area called the Grand Hall, look at the top. It’s way up there. The ceiling is 140 feet long, 15 feet wide, and it’s all a video. So there are biblical scenes video moving all day long, and they tell us if you could stand there all day and watch it, you’ll never see the same thing twice. So that’s just at the beginning, and it’s pretty stunning I can tell you.
A Ockershausen: That’s the entrance. It’s gotta be so, so impressive.
Tony Zeiss: So we’ve got-
A Ockershausen: How do you get people that don’t just sit there and stare and . . .
Tony Zeiss: Because behind them are saying, “Keep … We’ve got.” Those are volunteers who will keep people moving.
A Ockershausen: And it’s incredible.
The Digital Docent
Tony Zeiss: Now we have digital docent. If people want to have a digital … It’s like a tablet, and you can pick up that tablet, and you tell them your name, and it’ll say, “Hello, Andy. Welcome to the Museum of the Bible. How much time do you have today?” And if you say, “I’ve got three hours,” they’ll say, “Okay, and what are you most interested in? For example, are you interested in the history of the Bible? We can go see our live laboratory where scholars are still deciphering some of these artifacts and adding to the body of knowledge. And they’ll tell you about it and how they do it. Do you want to go look at the impact of the Bible? Would you rather look at the stories of the Bible?” Children, especially. We’ve got David and Goliath and all the things you can imagine that they would like.
A Ockershausen: Give them a show.
Tony Zeiss: When you answer those questions, then it will set up a path for you to take for three hours or two hours or however long you can stay.
A Ockershausen: It’s a guide.
Tony Zeiss: Yeah. It is a guide.
A Ockershausen: To be your guide.
Tony Zeiss: And, if you lose somebody in your party, it has a GPS function. We can find them within six inches any place in the museum for you. So you won’t lose them if somebody lags behind or a child runs off or something like that.
A Ockershausen: This is high, high, high tech.
Tony Zeiss: It is.
A Ockershausen: That’s wonderful.
The Fly Board – Fav Attraction
Tony Zeiss: Let me tell you about what I think will be the favorite attraction. I could be wrong, because we haven’t had all our guests in yet, and this is called the fly board, Andy. And you get on a stage. Picture a movable stage. It goes up and down and around and backwards and forwards, and you’re standing.
A Ockershausen: Stand up, you hold on.
Tony Zeiss: You hold on, and there’s a huge video in front of you. The lights go out. All you see is the video, and so it says, “Now, we’re gonna take you out of the museum and virtually, you do. You fly out of the museum, and, of course, the stage tilts back, and the air hits you in the face, so you get the sensation of flying out of the building. You fly over to the Capitol, circle it, go into the Capitol, and lasers start pointing out wherever there’s biblical text or a scripture, if you will, on a monument or something inside the dome. And then so the idea is to say, “Look how ubiquitous, or look how pervasive biblical text is in our culture, the impact of the Bible.” It flies you out of there-
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: … Goes across the street, goes into the Library of Congress, does the same thing, flies back down the mall, skips over by the Title Basin, and it goes down. They couldn’t keep it from doing this. They want it to go down and skip across the water. When it does, of course, mist comes up and hits you in the face.
A Ockershausen: Like a rock . . .
Tony Zeiss: Like a rock. Yeah. And then it goes by the cherry trees. Of course, you smell the cherry tree blossoms and so on. And it goes over to the Lincoln Memorial and then back up into the museum.
A Ockershausen: And you stand in this or you sit in it?
Tony Zeiss: You’re standing. It goes about-
A Ockershausen: Well, it’s all sights and sound, right?
Tony Zeiss: Seven and half minutes. Oh, yeah.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: It’s a virtual experience.
A Ockershausen: There’ll be a line in that place, won’t there?
Tony Zeiss: Yeah, there will be. And then we’ve got the Jesus of Nazareth. Imagine going into a first century Nazareth village. And so they went over to Israel into Nazareth and took pictures of some old first century buildings of the rocks, they built by rocks, came back, replicated the rocks in concrete, hand-painted every one of them, rebuilt, and built the same house, first century house, a carpentry shop.
A Ockershausen: Yeah. That’s where he worked for his family.
Tony Zeiss: Exactly. Oil presses. The synagogue is there, and then the walls have murals all over them that gives you a sense that you’re looking way out over the Sea of Galilee and all that. It’s amazing.
A Ockershausen: I can’t wait. My Janice has been. Did you see any of these shows yet?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Just online. If you go online, you can see-
A Ockershausen: I want to go down there.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: You can see what they have to offer so you can get excited about it. It’s very great.
Tony Zeiss: Just go to the Museum of the Bible.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Dot org.
Tony Zeiss: You can google it.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Yeah.
Tony Zeiss: Or museumofthebible.org, and there’s a four minute video that is a fly-through. You know, Janice it looks exactly like you saw on the fly-through. So when you come to visit, I want you to come visit.
A Ockershausen: Oh, absolutely.
Tony Zeiss: When you come to visit-
A Ockershausen: Hold me back.
Tony Zeiss: … You’ll see it. You know, a lot of lobbies, foyers, they put their best foot forward with their best wall covering, the best floor covering, the ceiling covering, but once you walk out of that, things kind of tone down.
A Ockershausen: It changes.
Tony Zeiss: Not this one. It’s stunning. It’s the same-
A Ockershausen: The best.
Tony Zeiss: … Jerusalem stone and tile throughout the museum.
A Ockershausen: A lot about The Holy Land. I love that.
Tony Zeiss: Oh, yeah.
A Ockershausen: I think that’s so important-
Tony Zeiss: Absolutely.
A Ockershausen: That our young people in our world understand what The Holy Land was like.
Tony Zeiss: Oh yeah.
A Ockershausen: It was very tough living.
Tony Zeiss: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: It was . . .
Tony Zeiss: All of our history is there, and so we got the Hebrew Bible. That’s almost half of the museum is that, and then, of course, the rest of the Bible. We’ve got the Israeli Antiquities Authority. They have loaned us artifacts, and they’re shipping … In fact, they’re here right now, and they’re putting in the exhibits now. The Vatican, I’ve never heard of the Vatican loaning things, but they’re loaning us artifacts, and we’re recreating the Vatican Library in a smaller scale, of course. So folks who maybe never get a chance to go see the Vatican, they can see it right here in Washington DC.
A Ockershausen: I mean, that’s so much.
Tony Zeiss: Right here in our city.
A Ockershausen: So much to sell and so much to talk about. We’re gonna take a break now, and I want to you, you mentioned something, and I let it slide, and now I’m gonna pin you. I want some details on it. This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is Our Town.
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Andy Ockershausen with Tony Zeiss. Tony, you mentioned a word. Everybody can think of it when you say Gutenberg. It’s ….the Bible. Where is the printed Gutenberg Bible? Does it exist?
More on the Gutenberg Bibles
Tony Zeiss: Well, they have several of them, and one of them is right over in the Library of Congress, one of the original Gutenberg bibles is there.
A Ockershausen: There was more than one, correct?
Tony Zeiss: Oh, yeah. Several. And then we have in our collection, we have one, but I think it was like a second or third edition.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Tony Zeiss: But in the early ones, there are several of them around. We saw one at the Gutenberg Library, my wife and I, when we visited over in Germany.
A Ockershausen: Is it in Germany or Switzerland?
Tony Zeiss: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
A Ockershausen: Germany or Switzerland.
Tony Zeiss: mm-hmm (affirmative).
A Ockershausen: And that was been with set type is right? He set the type?
Tony Zeiss: Correct.
A Ockershausen: Is that what made-
Tony Zeiss: Correct. And we have a … Listen to this. That’s one of the attractions. Every kid from seven to 70 is gonna love this, because they can turn it and print their own page of the-
A Ockershausen: Do their own Bible.
Tony Zeiss: Well, not the whole bible, but they can print a page of the Bible, the Gutenberg, and take it home as a souvenir.
A Ockershausen: Oh my. What a wonderful, wonderful souvenir.
Tony Zeiss: Because we’ve replicated that early Gutenberg press.
A Ockershausen: And now who was it that did … Was it Gideon that did the hotels?
Tony Zeiss: Yes. Uh huh.
A Ockershausen: Does that order still exist?
Tony Zeiss: They’re still doing that. Yes. Uh huh.
A Ockershausen: And how many millions of copies of that was made?
Tony Zeiss: Well, who knows, and most of them are pilfered. And you know what? It’s still the … I mean, that book is not … It is a controversial book. It has been throughout the ages.
A Ockershausen: Always been that way.
Tony Zeiss: But it’s also the most stolen book. My wife’s a librarian, and she says, “I can tell you as a librarian that’s the most stolen book, but we figure they really, they’re the people who need it. So it’s fine.
A Ockershausen: Sinners. Absolutely. The Stealers. That’s a great story. Tell us, Tony.
On the Bible in America Gallery
Tony Zeiss: Let me tell you about the Bible in America. There’s one section, one whole gallery on Bible in America. We commissioned a tapestry. It’s thick, and it’s heavy. It’s 220 feet long. They believe it’s the largest tapestry in America. And so it gives the history of the Bible in America. It’s gonna be amazing. Just walking through that, you’re getting a history lesson just walking 220 feet.
A Ockershausen: And it’s suspended? 240 feet right?
Tony Zeiss: Exactly. And then think about the impact. We have a gallery called The Impact of the Bible. Art. The Bible has art. Fashion. We have fashion. We have politics, literature, sports. You name it. You go on and on. We have 23 different exhibits just on the impact of the Bible.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
A Ockershausen: You’re gonna have to … Somebody’s gonna spend …
Tony Zeiss: Eight days. If you see everything.
A Ockershausen: If they keep coming back?
Tony Zeiss: Yeah. They’re gonna have to keep coming.
A Ockershausen: They will come back in.
Tony Zeiss: Plus, we have rotating exhibits. So something’s changing. And we have a lot of educational programs. We’re already planning them. We have all sorts … We have a Black History Month program we’re planning on right now, and we hope to use area church choirs, etc. we’ve got some key speakers coming in on Dead Sea Scrolls. And Dead Sea Scrolls Come Alive, I think, will be the title. I’m not sure. So we really want to reach out to the community and have the community see this as their museum as well as it is an international museum.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: There’s a lot of research going on still, right? The people coming from, like you said, Israel, and they’re doing the research on particular pieces of the Bible right now?
Israeli Antiquity Authority
Tony Zeiss: Well, yes. We have, as matter of fact, the Israeli Antiquity Authority has loaned us a lot of their pieces, but we have another one, another exhibit that’s coming from The Bible Land’s museum, which is right across the street from Israeli, The National Museum. And Bible Land’s museum has done all this research, and they’ve got all these artifacts to prove that they have found the actual valley where the battle between David and Goliath took place.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: So they’re loaning us antiquities on that particular topic. So it goes on and on and on. There’s something for everybody. We have a children’s section called Courageous Pages, and it’s Courageous Pages, in other words, courageous stories in the Bible that children would like. They’re all interactive in one way or another. You can just let them loose in there. They’ll be there for a day. They’ll never get bored.
A Ockershausen: Leave ’em in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, huh? Maybe be a builtin babysitter and wouldn’t know it.
Cafés and Gardens
Tony Zeiss: And they won’t get hungry, because we have a café, a restaurant up on the sixth floor, and it’s called Manna. We also serve kosher food there, meals there. We have a biblical garden, which is outside on the top they can walk out. All the plants are indigenous to Israel.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: And so you can go out there if you want and eat or have things. And, by the way, people can, we have all kinds of space. We have a, what’s it called? A gathering room that holds 1,000 people with chandeliers. It’s as beautiful and stunning as anything you’ll see-
A Ockershausen: This building keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger in my mind.
Tony Zeiss: In any hotel. So, of course, we co-sponsor events-
A Ockershausen: And you have a theater, too.
Tony Zeiss: We have the theater.
A Ockershausen: What’s it, 400 people in the theater? 400 seats?
Tony Zeiss: 470. Good memory.
A Ockershausen: I thought you said that.
Tony Zeiss: And then we’ve got a café. What do you call it? A coffee shop?
A Ockershausen: Christmas at the museum.
Tony Zeiss: Why not?
A Ockershausen: How about that?
Tony Zeiss: How about a night at the museum? You could do that. Christmas at the museum, that’s a great idea.
A Ockershausen: We used to do Christmas Eve at the Kennedy Center.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Christmas Eve at the Kennedy Center.
Tony Zeiss: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: But there’s no reason we couldn’t do Christmas Eve at the museum down the road. Right, Janny?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
A Ockershausen: A radio show.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: It was a music show. It was a radio show.
Tony Zeiss: Now, we have radio and television studios, and we allow people to come in. You could do your show right there. So we’ve got K-LOVE has about 100 and some stations, they have actually put in all the equipment for us. But at times if they’re not using it, other folks can use it and say, “Coming to you live from the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: That’s great.
Tony Zeiss: We have a coffee shop up on the mezzanine. Guess what it’s called? Milk and Honey. So it’s gonna be lots and lots of fun when you come to this museum.
A Ockershausen: It’s . . .
Tony Zeiss: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Now, how about, where did the workforce come from? Obviously you have to have a group. You gotta lead people around.
Tony Zeiss: In fact, we’re hiring 166 people. We are at about 125 right now, and then we have to train them all of what they have to do. And we’ve been very fortunate. We’ve gotten a number of people who have already had museum experience, and that’s what we were hoping for. But we, in most cases, we hired Washingtonians, people from Washington, and that’s what we wanted to do. It’s the world’s museum, but it’s really, the hometown is right here.
A Ockershausen: But that’s great for the economy, too. It’s great for the area-
Tony Zeiss: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
A Ockershausen: To bring people aboard. They’ll probably be very, very important to selling what you all are doing, because they’re gonna believe in it.
Tony Zeiss: Well, they do. They believe in the cause.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. And the cause is more important than the money.
Tony Zeiss: Yeah.
A Ockershausen: We gotta believe in the cause. And you believe in the cause.
Tony Zeiss: Well, I do, and that’s why I work so hard to tell people about memberships, because memberships are really important. Those donations are important, but memberships are important. We have 50,000 members, and-
A Ockershausen: You do already?
Tony Zeiss: Oh, yes, and now the Green family, they were so generous they bought the building and renovated the building for us, but we’re on our own, so we have to raise our own money, and memberships is the best way. We have 27 different levels. You can go online and find them. Next time I see you, Andy, I’m gonna ask you for your membership card.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen:: You got it.
A Ockershausen: I’m here. I’m a patient. She’s in charge here. You don’t have to sell her. She loves your Bible, even before. She wouldn’t even let me see it. But I’m just so impressed. Your enthusiasm. Has the local publications reached out to you to sell people what’s coming?
Tony Zeiss: Thank you.
In the Media
A Ockershausen: From any of the radio, TV stations?
Tony Zeiss: You are intuitive. The Washington Post sent four reporters to talk with me and our content director just yesterday as a matter of fact.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Tony Zeiss: So they’re gonna do a big spread to announce that we’re coming.
A Ockershausen: What it is and what it means.
Tony Zeiss: So we’re really excited.
A Ockershausen: Now how about your television? They oughta be interested in this, too.
Tony Zeiss: Oh yeah. I’ve been on several TV shows, actually, in probably the last six months, because they’ll come in and tour the construction site. But now they’re coming in. They and see what it’s really gonna look like.
A Ockershausen: And once you get open, it’s really will be important that they cover it then.
Tony Zeiss: Exactly.
A Ockershausen: You know, for our population, because this is such a great thing for Our Town-
Tony Zeiss: Oh, yeah.
A Ockershausen: … To have this museum. A great thing.
Tony Zeiss: Fox News, CNN, TBN, lots of networks, of course, are covering it, too.
A Ockershausen: Well, we found out many years ago sometime the visitors know more about Our Town than residents do, because they take the time to learn it and to find out about what goes on. We just, Janice is so enthused about your museum, and we’ll certainly, we’ll be a member, and we’ll be there. Tony, we can’t thank you enough for what you’re doing to bring all that enthusiasm in here. It’s just great for Our Town.
Tony Zeiss: It has been my honor to meet you, Andy. Even my cab driver knew all about you. He says, “I grew up with him.” I asked him if he knew you. So, listen, to reiterate, our website is museumofthebible.org and you can find out. You can get Amazing Grace tickets there. You can get time tickets to come in and see the museum.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Tony Zeiss: I recommend that people start doing that right away.
A Ockershausen: Yeah. Because probably from the time you open through the new year, it’s gonna be tough.
Tony Zeiss: It is.
A Ockershausen: The holiday season, both Thanksgiving and Christmas people flock to town, as you know. So give that website again.
Tony Zeiss: It’s called museumofthebible.org.
A Ockershausen: Easy. It’s like ourtowndc.com. That’s our website, Ockershausen site. Tony, it’s such a pleasure to meet you. Your enthusiasm has got me, I wish I could go there today, because I gotta see it.
Tony Zeiss: Well, actually you can. You and Janice can come over today. I’ll give you a personal tour now. All the exhibits aren’t up. They’re installing them right now.
A Ockershausen: We’ll wait ’til you’re ready for us, Tony.
Tony Zeiss: Okay, that’s it, then.
A Ockershausen: But thank you for being in Our Town. I’m so glad to have you here, and we’ll do everything we can. I wish the old WMAL existed, but it doesn’t. But we’ll do what we can to help you, because we believe.
Tony Zeiss: I appreciate it.
A Ockershausen: Thank you very much, Tony Zeiss.
Tony Zeiss: My pleasure.
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