Gutenberg Gates replica draws attention at Penn Square Mall
A 40-foot-tall structure erected at a local mall captured the attention -- and the imagination -- of mall visitors and other passers-by on Saturday in Oklahoma City.
People stopped to take pictures and find out more about the scaled replica of the Museum of the Bible's Gutenberg Gates erected in the south parking lot of Penn Square Mall, 1901 Northwest Expressway. The replica will be featured at the mall through 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 29.
Steven Bickley, Museum of the Bible vice president of marketing, said the gates replica is part of a national, five-city campaign to raise awareness of the museum, which is set for grand opening on Nov. 17 in Washington, D.C.
Bickley said some visitors on Saturday said they came out because they knew about the Bible museum while others said they didn't know much about it and they were curious as they prepared to shop at the mall.
"Isn't that the story of the Bible? We expect people to come to our museum who know a lot about the Bible and there will be people who come who don't know anything about it and that's wonderful. That's what we hope for," he said.
"We hope both sets are equally engaged."
The replica gates had been scheduled to debut at the metro mall on Friday, but high winds forced Museum of the Bible leaders to postpone erecting the structures. Bickley said crews had to wait until 5 p.m. Friday when the wind died down to begin erecting the replica gates and they worked until 4 a.m. on Saturday to complete the installation.
He said the replica gates are made to the scale of the grand structures flanking the entryway of the museum in Washington. The actual gates weigh 16 tons, he said. While the touring gates were created using truss, plywood, truss wrap, exterior vinyl and a lightweight brick façade, the Gutenberg Gates at the museum are made of bronze and are the largest panels of their kind in the world.
Bickley said artist Larry Kirkland of Kansas was commissioned to create the entrance gates that will greet museum guests come Nov. 17.
Bickley said the replica gates were first erected in Los Angeles before they were moved on to Nashville, Tennessee, near the location for the 49th annual Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.
Bickley said Oklahoma City was chosen as a stop on the tour because of the museum founders' ties to the city. The Green family, founders of Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby, built the Museum of the Bible.
"These are our roots," Bickley said.
The replica gates will be in Times Square in New York City next weekend before moving on the National Mall in Washington.
The gates bear the passages of Genesis 1:1-31 in Latin, as found in the Gutenberg Bible, the first major book printed using moveable metal type.
Bickley said museum leaders chose to replicate the museum's gates for several reasons.
"It is a wonderful symbol and it hits on so many things," he said.
"It speaks to the scale of the museum. It speaks to the quality and thoughtfulness of the design. The museum's three primary floors are devoted to the history, narrative and impact of the Bible and it (replica gates) includes all of that. And you can't miss it."
Chuck and Inez Freeman of Bethany took pictures of each other in front of the replica on Saturday afternoon.
The couple said they know the Green family and have been anticipating the opening of the Museum of the Bible. They said they read about the replica coming to Penn Square so they made it a priority to stop and see it.
"We know all about it. We can't wait to take a trip," Inez Freeman said of the museum.
"It's fantastic and it's beautiful," she said of the replica.
Bickley said people may go online to https://www.museumofthebible.org/ to find out about obtaining tickets. A grand opening event will be held at the museum on Nov. 17. It will open to the public on Nov. 18.