This month, The Museum of the Bible became the first to completely unveil the Wiedmann Bible—what is believed to the world’s longest illustrated Bible—in the U.S. This incredible Bible was displayed along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool on the National Mall with the help of approximately 1,000 volunteers, by museum estimates.
The Wiedmann Bible, completed in 2000, features a continuous illustrative narrative of the Old and New Testament in 3,333 images throughout 19 leporellos (accordion-style books). It stretches for over one mile long.
“Museum of the Bible is honored to be part of this historic event,” Museum of the Bible CEO Ken McKenzie said in a statement. “The Wiedmann Bible exhibit is one of the most popular at the museum, and yet, you can’t truly understand the artifact’s uniqueness until you see just how long it is.
“[Wiedmann] believed that about a third of the world’s population either couldn’t read or couldn’t learn through words. They had to learn pictorially,” McKenzie further explained. “And that was his motivation to spend 16 years of his life to create this amazing Bible.”
Wiedmann, the creator of the Bible, passed away in 2013 and sadly, did not have the opportunity to publish his work, according to the Wiedmann Bible website. He stored his illustrations in the attic of his gallery which remained untouched until his son, Martin Wiedmann, found four aluminum boxes that contained the incredible leporellos when he reopened his father’s gallery after his death.
“I am overwhelmed with joy,” Martin Wiedmann expressed over the Museum’s decision to display his father’s work. “The Lincoln Memorial has been the site of many important historical events. Showing this unique visual narrative of the Bible here makes my heart overflow with gratitude. When my father wanted to publish his work, he was rejected so many times. However, he never gave up. He said that God’s wisdom gave him the chance to finish what he started, and he believed that this work needed to be shared. Even if it did not happen until decades later. I am very thankful to the Museum of the Bible for making this possible.”
Martin Wiedmann seconded McKenzie in explaining his father’s motivation to make this Bible a reality. He told CBN News, “There are more than a billion people illiterate—people who can’t read and write—and that’s one way for them to engage with the Bible, through visuals.”
The illustrations themselves are borrowed from many schools of art: surrealism, cubism, abstract expressionism—creating a whole new way of interacting with characters from the Bible. Most noticeably, Jesus is not represented with his trafitional wavy, light, brown-blonde, long hair.
“He never wanted God to have a face or a gender,” McKenzie said of Wiedmann. “And so God is always represented as a triangle coming from the top of the page. Jesus is always represented with this crazy blonde hair. Don’t know why!”
“There are more than a billion people illiterate – people who can’t read and write – and that’s one way for them to engage with the Bible, through visuals.”
In early June, 400 people held the 3,333 paintings all connected together in a single line stretching from the Lincoln Memorial down to the World War II Memorial and looping all the way back.
Looking around at the event, Martin Wiedmann exclaimed, “To have a mile-long picture around the Reflecting Pool in the form of a Bible—this is unheard of!”
You can experience The Widmann Bible at the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C through September 8th, 2019.