Biblical life exhibit opens at Antiqiuties Center

Jennifer Shrader Staff writer

September 16, 2013

An exhibit more than 2,000 years in the making is now open at Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange.

The Biblical Life exhibit opened Sunday, with ceremonies to honor donors and special guests.

“This is an opportunity to see the results of your investment,” said James Fleming, founder and CEO of Explorations in Antiquity. “We hope you are pleased.”

The exhibit is meant to help guests better understand the teachings and life of Jesus, as well as the traditions of all religions, Fleming said.

“We have so much in common. We should celebrate those things,” he said.

Sunday was an opportunity to honor major donors to the project, including the Callaway Foundation, which Karla Herr, board co-chairman with her husband Phil, said encouraged the antiquities center to locate in LaGrange.

“They put up the capital for our property and building renovation and our first replica exhibits,” she said.

The foundation also provided matching grants for the amphitheater and museum.

But the biggest surprise was perhaps for Fleming himself. Phil Herr said Fleming wouldn’t agree to having the exhibit named for him, so they went one better: it is named for his parents, Walt and June Fleming.

“They would have liked seeing you here,” Fleming said, chocking back emotion.

The new exhibit features artifacts from the Bronze Age through the late Byzantine Period and the antiquities center is one of just seven museums around the world to host part of the collection long-term. The Israeli Antiquities Center chose the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum in New York and the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles as the United States locations.

The exhibits tie in to the antiquities center’s outdoor displays: the life of the farmer, life of the shepherd and life of the village, but also include the life of the fisherman, Old and New Testament scenes and an undersea shipwreck. A replica New Testament tomb features ossuaries, carved stone boxes used to hold the bones of long dead ancestors. Life of the village shows how food was stored and prepared, ancient game boards and beads of stone and glass.

Explorations in Antiquity is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information may be found at