Many people have asked us all sorts of why, what, and how questions about Bibleworld and our invovlement. We will provide a bit of background. Ross and I met in 1990 while both working at Rotorua hospital, Ross as a Medical Scientist and I, Sarah, worked as an Occupational Therapist. We married in 1991. In 1995, we began studying at the Bible College of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, where we both completed a four year Bachelor of Ministries degree (honours). Throughout this time, we both felt led to become involved in Biblical teaching, particularly with adults.
In 2002, Ross received a very strong sense of calling to set up an interactive Bible Museum in Rotorua called Bibleworld. We formed the Bibleworld Charitable trust in late 2002 and for about seven years, we were involved in a lot of background work of learning and research and beginning to gather resources. For both of us this involved further study as we completed our theological Masters degrees. I also completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Museum studies.
In 2006, we had the fantastic privilege of travelling to Italy, Greece, Israel, Jordan and Turkey to see many of the places where Biblical events took place. Some years later we had the opportunity of spending several weeks participating in a Roman era archaeological dig on the island of Menorca. We have also travelled to America and Europe to visit and learn from a range of museums with a biblical focus or with significant ancient artefacts that relate to the Biblical era. In 2009, we began experimenting with model making, starting with making a simple village house. This was followed by the 1:72 scale model of a city under siege, with around 180 small hand painted figures. Since then we have refined our techniques and constructed many more models.
In April 2010, we opened Bibleworld Museum in Rotorua with a small collection of genuine ancient artefacts, some hands on activities and our first two models. Since 2010, we have added to the exhibits on a regular basis and have significantly increased the size of the museum. In July 2017 we relocated to our new and larger premises at 1141 Eruera Street, and added in some new exhibits. One of the benefits of this site is improved access. We now have a long ramp up to the museum and no longer have any stairs.
In 2018, the museum now has ten scale models, two interactive maps, a life-size diorama, about 72 ancient artefacts, heaps of replicas, and a range of hands on activities. And we still have so many more ideas of other things we want to continue adding and developing. . . Our aim is to inspire people of all ages to continue learning about the Biblical world.
Ross continues to work part time as a Medical Microbiology Scientist, which allows us to volunteer our time for Bibleworld and keep total costs down to about $30,000 per year. Bibleworld is funded by donations. This includes a small group of faithful regular donors, as well as the generosity of many visitors whose donations allow us to continue developing Bibleworld.
The Bibleworld trust is not affiliated with any particular church, denomination or organisation. We aim to provide a place that welcomes people from all church and non-church backgrounds. Ross and I currently attend Lakes Church here in Rotorua.
Most days when Bibleworld is open, Ross and/or I are likely to be present as hosts, and are generally available to answer any questions about the exhibits. On other occasions you will meet one of our friendly volunteers who will welcome you to Bibleworld.
We encourage you to visit and check out this unique venture.
Sarah Nightingale (Bibleworld co-founder and curator)