Museum of Biblical Art records
Language of Materials
(Note: Access to the collection is restricted until August 1, 2025.) The Museum of Biblical Art records include curatorial, administration, and exhibition files dating from its time as the Gallery at the American Bible Society in 1997 to its closing in 2015. MoBiA was founded in order to highlight the influence that the Bible has had on art while keeping a secular distance. The majority of the records relate the museums numerous exhibitions over the years including the checklists, condition reports, clippings, and loan agreements as well as other information. There are also documents regarding the administration of the museum and its continual relationship with the American Bible Society. MoBiA closed in 2015 following financial difficulties and its inability to find a new location in New York City.
The Museum of Biblical Art (MoBiA) was an institution located in New York City that sought to remain religiously neutral while pursuing its key mission of providing insight into the ways that the Bible has influenced art. It was originally created as the Gallery at the American Bible Society in 1997 with Ena Heller placed as its director. It was not until 2005 that it officially became its own independent institution and was renamed as the Museum of Biblical Art. However, despite the fact that MoBiA was a separate institution from the American Bible Society (ABS), it continued to be located within the ABS headquarters and received a large majority of its funds from ABS as well.
Its first exhibition was "Coming Home! Self-Taught Artists, the Bible and the American South." Due to that fact that MoBiA did not house a permanent collection of its own, most of its exhibitions over the next decade required loans from other institutions and artists. Other exhibitions included "Biblical Art in a Secular Century," "Chagall's Bible," and "Louis C. Tiffany and the Art of Devotion." Such exhibitions included a broad range of works from several different regions and time periods. Its last exhibition was "Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral" which featured pieces that had never before been shown in the United States.
In 2015, the American Bible Society moved its headquarters from New York City to Philadelphia. Since MoBiA had previously been able to rent its location in ABS for a very minimal price, the museum now found it a challenge to find a new location that it would be able to afford. Therefore, by the summer of 2015, the Museum of Biblical Art officially closed due to financial constraints.
This record group is organized into four series:
I. Administrative Files
II. Exhibition Files
III. Press Clippings
IV. Printed Materials
Scope and Contents
The Museum of Biblical Art records include curatorial, administration, and exhibition files from 1997 to 2015. The documents concern MoBiA's time as an independent museum from 2005 to 2015 as well as its original status as the Gallery at the American Bible Society from 1997 to 2004.
Due to the fact that MoBiA had no permanent collections of its own, the majority of the files relate to the organization of exhibitions. These include loan agreements, checklists, and installation plans as well as other details regarding the realization of MoBiA's displays. The amount of records regarding each exhibition differs greatly, but the majority of the files include numerous documents concerning the acquisition of art works and their layout in the museum. The majority of the files pertain to exhibitions organized once MoBiA became its own institution, however, there are a few items that date back to its time as the Gallery at the American Bible Society. There are also records regarding the creation of books and symposiums to accompany some of the exhibitions.
In addition, the records include information related to the administration of MoBiA. There are agendas, minutes, and meeting notes from the decade long work of the Board of Trustees. These pertain to topics such as finances, programs, and the eventual dissolution of the board in 2015. Items also concern other administrative factors of MoBiA's such as financial, strategic, and operational planning. Although the museum was officially independent from the American Bible Society, MoBiA still received many donations from ABS and was located within their New York City headquarters. Therefore, there are also files related to the relationship between the two institutions. These include financial agreements as well as lease contracts. There are also records regarding meetings in which both MoBiA and ABS discuss what type of relationship they should have and how they should move forward with it.
Other materials include press clippings about both individual exhibitions and MoBiA in general as well as pamphlets, postcards, and brochures for each of the museum's exhibitions.
Under the terms of the gift agreement with the Museum of Biblical Art, access to the collection is restricted for a period of ten years, that is, until August 1, 2025. During this restricted period, access is permitted only with written permission from the donor's designated trustees. For further information, contact the N-YHS Library's Curator of Manuscripts at email@example.com.
Digital formats (e.g., CDs) are found in the collection. These are currently restricted from access in order to ensure that the digital files are not accidentally corrupted.
This collection is owned by the New-York Historical Society. The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.
This collection should be cited as the Museum of Biblical Art Records, MS 3094, New-York Historical Society.
Location of Materials
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift from Museum of Biblical Art in 2015.
About this Guide
Processed by intern Andy Latoni of the Princeton Internships in Civic Service program in July 2019.