Almost 40 years ago, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale stood in the pulpit of Marble Collegiate Church and invited everyone to join him and Mrs. Peale on a tour of the Holy Land. A new member of the congregation, Isabelle Wade Bacon, was one of many who responded. Today, the Isabelle Bacon Holy Land Museum celebrates the life's work inspired by that trip.
Isabelle confesses that her overriding reason for going along was not just to travel, but to travel in the company of the Peales. The experience had a profound effect on her. From the start, Mrs. Bacon found that firsthand association with the people, places and objects of the Bible made the Book come alive for her as never before. She had found a new purpose in her life, and decided to stay on in the Holy Land to work and study.
During this time, through prayer, Mrs. Bacon conceived the idea of creating a Holy Land Center that would present the area's culture to people who could never hope to travel there themselves. She traveled throughout Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, asking people what they felt a Holy Land Center in the US should strive to accomplish.
She subsequently returned to her home in New York City and established a Holy Land Center that brought Jesus' beloved homeland and its people to America.
During her first visit to the Holy Land, and on seven succeeding trips, she collected the items now contained in the museum. Dr. Peale has said of Mrs. Bacon "...she is one of the valid experts on the Holy Land. Few people equal her knowledge of the Holy places, and fewer still equal her knowledge of the territory in which our Lord's earthly ministry was conducted."
In 1991, Mrs. Bacon donated the Holy Land Museum to Peale Center for Christian Living, thus bringing full circle a dream that had begun on a tour in the company of the Peales and became a lifelong mission that has brought the Holy Land to life for thousands.
An educational and cultural resource that is focused on the land of the Bible, the homeland of Jesus, and the birthplace of the Christian faith, the purpose of the museum is to promote a greater understanding of this culturally diverse area that forms the backdrop for the Old and New Testaments.
A visit to the museum is a wonderful experience for people of all ages. The ancient costumes, splendid oriental rugs, and colorful Middle-Eastern tableware reflect the area's rich culture. Many items bring familiar Bible stories to life. One such object -- a Palestinian sling-shot -- makes the marvelous story of David and Goliath more concrete and vivid for children and adults alike.
The museum's decor makes one feel as if he had just stepped into the Holy Land. From the display of dolls in native dress to the brass lamps donated by the Jordinian Pavilion at the 1969 Worlds' Fair, the flavor of the Holy Land permeates the museum.
The Center for Positive Thinking and the Isabelle Bacon Holy Land Museum are open from 8am to 3:30pm Monday through Friday, September through June, and from 8am to 3:30pm Monday through Thursday in July and August.