March 2018 – On a quiet town square in Collierville, Tennessee, a part of the greater Memphis area, is an eye-catching gray storefront. But it is not a typical boutique found on a touristy street. It is Bible Museum on the Square: international, biblical history housed in an out-of-the-way corner in the nation’s Mid-South.
Labor of love
“Don and Nancy Bassett and B’Lou Carter founded the museum about 22 years ago,” explained Craig Gyergyo, current museum director. “Don was an archeologist, scholar, linguist, and a minister. So he put these combined loves into creating a museum to be an educational resource for the church and community.”
Thus was born the museum’s permanent exhibit of ancient artifacts and exact replicas, including the Cyrus Cylinder, Moabite Stone, and Assyrian Flood Tablet.
“Don, Nancy, B’Lou, and some others acquired the collection that we have now,” Gyergyo added. “They went to the Louvre, they went to the British Museum, they went to the Holy Land multiple times, and they acquired a really great collection. There are original artifacts; there are museum replicas from places such as the Louvre. These things have incredible value, and they are from originals that can only be found overseas, so it’s really unique to have them under one roof.”
The permanent collection represents a walk-through timeline of biblical history, culminating in a full-scale, operational model of the Gutenberg Press and an array of biblical manuscripts. However, that is not all the museum holds in store behind its doors.
Keeping it lively
Bassett operated the museum until his death in 2016. Gyergyo came on board in spring 2017. With one year of running the museum under his belt, Gyergyo’s vision lends big changes and new life for the museum.
A variety of different exhibits and programming take place throughout the year, from children’s activities to live music performances to weekly Bible studies. In December, 100 colorful Nativity scenes from around the world were on display, along with Christmas-oriented activities each weekend. And the early spring exhibit, during the season of Lent and Easter, examines the truth about the Messiah.
“We actually possess artifacts that have to do with Jesus’s death and crucifixion, and we are going to highlight those and tell the story about the Man, Jesus, from Scripture,” Gyergyo told AFA Journal. “Also, we’re going to speak to false gospels to describe who Jesus isn’t. Finally, we’re going to look at pop culture to show how Jesus impacts culture, even today.”
All about literacy
But whatever comes and goes in the museum, one thing remains: a dedication to biblical literacy.
“The big deal at the museum, the theme that ties it all together, is Bible literacy,” Gyergyo emphasized. “Overall, our goal is to help people have a greater understanding of the message of God’s Word, and the content of God’s Word. All of our collection, manuscripts, programming, artifacts, and replicas are significant in that they support the accuracy and authenticity of the biblical narrative.”
Collierville Town Square, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was named “Best Main Street in America” in 2014 by Parade magazine.
Mark Heuberger, communications director for the Town of Collierville, recommends climbing inside the square’s period train cars, visiting the Morton Museum of Collierville History, and stopping by the visitor’s center in the historic train depot – a few of the town’s favorite highlights. Learn more at mainstreetcollierville.org, 901-853-1666; or biblemuseumonthesquare.org, 901-854-9578.