I was so sad about this. I guess it drives home the idea that nothing of the world lasts.
Backers cling to hopes for biblical center
Dallas: Fire officials now looking at whether blaze was accidental
07:41 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 20, 2005
By KIMBERLY DURNAN / DallasNews.com
The fate of the charred Biblical Arts Center remains uncertain, except for its supporters' desire to rebuild the beloved museum dedicated to Christian art. Fire engulfed the North Dallas center on June 29, destroying much of the building and its prized painting, the giant Miracle at Pentecost, completed by artist Torger Thompson in 1969. Firefighters first suspected arson, then faulty electrical wiring. Now they are looking at whether the blaze was accidental, Dallas Fire-Rescue Lt. Joel Lavender said Wednesday. He would not elaborate.
“A portion of the building was destroyed. Unfortunately, the portion destroyed was the area that also contained the painting,” said John Goble, a Miracle at Pentecost Foundation board member. “It has been declared a loss by the insurance company. The walls and ceiling in the room that contained the painting have collapsed.” While fire investigators continue their work, board members have been discussing whether they can restore the building and its most famous painting, Goble said.
“The board is waiting for the final report from the insurance adjusters,” he said. “At such time we receive that information, we will make a final decision on how to proceed in terms of rebuilding the facility and in some form redoing the painting, given the fact that the artist who painted it is now deceased.”
The story of the painting begins with Thompson, the Dallas artist who dedicated 10 years to creating the 124-by-20-foot mural. It was his masterpiece, his passion, his piece of immortality. “You see, when I finished that painting, I was all set in life,” Thompson wrote in The Miracle at Pentecost: Creation of a Masterpiece, his 1976 book about the painting. “I could have gone anywhere and done anything! Do you know what it means to an artist to have a painting like that on display?” Before Thompson died in 1988, at age 82, he asked to be buried at Hillcrest Cemetery, about 100 yards from the museum where the painting was housed, so he could “watch over it.”
“It didn’t do him much good,” said his 60-year-old daughter, Roxie Wood. “It’s such a loss.” Thompson grew up in Minnesota and South Dakota, the son of a cigar-making father and a mother who rode bareback in Buffalo Bill’s circus. He graduated from the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. Thompson married, moved to Dallas in search of a warmer climate, and opened a graphic arts company that created logos for Texas Instruments and 7-Eleven.
After becoming active at Highland Park Presbyterian Church, he began incorporating his artistic abilities with religious lessons in what became known as “chalk talks,” biblical lessons illustrated with chalk drawings. “He was famous for his chalk talks,” recalled Nannette Geeo, a longtime friend of the Thompson family. “He was just a regular guy, but down to earth. He was fun, one of those guys that everyone really liked.”
Eventually, Thompson began focusing his attention on the Pentecost, described in the Book of Acts as the day when the Holy Spirit appeared before the disciples after Jesus' ascension into heaven and inspired them to spread his word. According to the Bible tale, the Holy Spirit gave the disciples the ability to speak in many languages, and after that, whenever they addressed a crowd, each person in the audience would understand the message as if it were being delivered in his or her native tongue. Family friend Bill King said Thompson would show him three-ring binders full of research about the Pentecost and biographies of the people he planned to put in the painting.
Thompson spent a year painting a smaller version to serve as preparation for the larger painting. He asked local residents to serve as models, and he and his assistants took another three years to paint the final version.
Al Barnes, a former employee of Thompson’s graphic arts company, had just graduated from college when he was asked to help paint both the model and large mural. Barnes said his involvement helped keep him afloat financially, honed his artistic skills and launched his career. “I’m just amazed he put up with all my shenanigans the way he did,” Barnes recalled. “I came in late, left early. He knew my painting ability. We went through a lot together, and he was close to me. He told me he felt like I was his son. It was very moving.”
In a 1987 interview with The Dallas Morning News, Thompson said he was desperate to find financing when Dallas philanthropist Mattie Caruth Byrd agreed to fund the long-term project, which she expanded by making the painting the focal point of her dream of creating a biblical arts center. “I was ready to sell my house and everything to pay for that painting,” Thompson said.
Craig Millis, who knew Thompson from Sunday school class, said Thompson drew attention as he worked on the enormous painting in an open-air hangar. There were bleachers for the public and scaffolding for the painters, Millis said. “He was full-time devoted to the Lord and his work,” Millis said. “The painting had a lot of depth and feeling. You could feel the excitement in the people, and he got that across. You could study that painting for hours and realize there are so many emotions. It’s a big loss.”
The painting was Thompson’s last major work. A month after he finished, Thompson suffered an injury that blinded his left eye and ruined his depth perception.
Last edited by dfwcre8tive; 14 April 2009 at 12:27 PM.
I was so sad about this. I guess it drives home the idea that nothing of the world lasts.
Biblical Arts fire caused by faulty wires
05:55 PM CDT on Wednesday, July 27, 2005
From Staff Reports
Investigators said Wednesday the fire that engulfed the Biblical Arts Center last month started within electrical wires located above a storage area of the building.
The June 29 blaze destroyed much of the building – at 7500 Park Lane in Dallas – and its prized painting, the Miracle of Pentecost. The center also housed various pieces of artwork on loan. Damages were estimated at $2 million. Dallas artist Torger Thompson completed the Miracle at Pentecost painting in 1969. Board members of the Miracle at Pentecost Foundation said they would like to rebuild the center and attempt to recreate the painting if they can get the funding.
Is there any news whether this will reopen or are they doing anything with the site next to Northpark? Since pretty much everything was destroyed in the fire are they going to rebuild or have they given up?
Last edited by dfwcre8tive; 25 October 2007 at 02:45 AM.
Biblical Arts Center, destroyed in '05 fire, hopes to reopen with new focus
09:45 AM CST on Thursday, November 13, 2008
By JEFFREY WEISS / The Dallas Morning News
More than three years after it was all but destroyed by fire, the Biblical Arts Center in North Dallas is announcing new plans and a new name today.
Rebranding itself as the Museum of Biblical Art, the institution, officials say, is adapting its old mission to a new structure.
Among the plans:
-- A permanent restoration room where the public can watch conservators fixing artwork.
-- A space dedicated to temporary and permanent exhibits of Jewish artwork and ceremonial items.
-- An area devoted to African-American and Hispanic religious art.
-- A section used to show some of the artifacts held by the Dallas Holocaust Museum, which is squeezed for space.
You can see the new construction next to NorthPark going up. It's too bad they didn't decide to rebuild in the Arts District.
From the website: https://biblicalarts.org/about_us.php
Although the fire dramaticallly damaged much of the structure and contents, the Museum Board of Directors made the decision to rebuild and expand the Museum of Biblical Art – continuing the vision of this unique museum. The new Museum of Biblical Art is now under construction under the professional direction of Frank L. Meier Associates, Inc., Architecture-Planning, and W. B. Kibler, General Contractors, both of Dallas, with grand opening scheduled for Fall 2009.
If you come for a tour at our Museum facility, you will be amazed at how far we’ve already come in such a short time – the 6,000 square foot addition at the back of the building is going up and major steel trusses and beams have been completed.
The planned Grand Entryway is taking shape on the East side of the building facing Boedeker, and part of the long, circular cement drive has been poured. This covered entrance will provide easier access in all types of weather for school children and patrons, and will allow for valet parking during special events. Our general contractor is working on the roof and the Ziggurat, and is now installing the air conditioning units.
The new Museum will feature:
* 20,000 square feet of Expanded Art Galleries
* New main attraction Art or Artwork
* Spacious Atrium and Reception Area
* Biblical Archeology Gallery
* Architectural Research Library and Archive
* Jewish Ceremonial Art Gallery
* Grand Entrance with covered entry on Boedeker Drive across from NorthPark Center
* Damascus Gate and Ceremonial Entryway
* Art Conservatory and Restoration Laboratory
* Golden Ziggurat, reminiscent of ancient stepped pyramids from the time of Abraham, surrounded by 36 windows providing light to the Atrium
* Expanded Space for Community Service Use -- for Weddings, Receptions, and Meetings
* Bible Meditation Garden featuring a variety of native plants, trees and herbs of Israel
* Additional Exhibit and Colonnade Galleries
Does anyone know when this will be opening? I've heard it's sometime in December.
Five years after blaze, Museum of Biblical Art to reopen on Good Friday in Dallas
11:30 PM CDT on Wednesday, March 31, 2010
By EMILY FOX / The Dallas Morning News
On Good Friday, the Museum of Biblical Art will be officially resurrected.
The museum, formerly known as The Biblical Arts Center and located just west of NorthPark Center, was gutted by a fire in 2005.
The blaze, caused by faulty wiring, damaged thousands of pieces of art and destroyed the museum's centerpiece, the 20-by-124-foot Miracle at Pentecost oil painting.
"You come to a smoky building every day, and there's a lot of grieving," said Scott Peck, the museum's co-director and curator. "But then there's excitement. You start asking, 'How can we do it better?' "
They started with a sprinkler system. When the fire broke out almost five years ago, Peck tried to fight it by himself with a fire extinguisher until flames drove him from the building.
R.J. Machacek, the museum's other co-director, said the cost to install sprinklers in the previous building was prohibitive. But Machacek said this time, they were considered a must. "Obviously, we're a little sensitive to the fire issue," he said.
The museum also added 6,000 square feet. Where the former center had three galleries for artwork displays, the new facility has 11.
Specialized galleries have been created for biblical archaeology, religious architecture and a sculpture atrium. Others are dedicated African-American, European, Hispanic, Israeli and Jewish art.
"We serve everybody," said Peck.
I would think that a museum with millions of dollars worth of art and artifacts would have sprinklers installed. I'm sure it was expensive to retrofit but I would imagine a large part of that would be offset with lower insurance costs. I still can't believe they didn't have sprinklers, that's just asinine!
While I am not an adherent to Christian mythology, I can certainly see the artistic value of having a museum of biblical art. I would like to make a visit to this museum sometime soon.
"Bow down... bow down... before the power of Santa! Or be crushed... be crushed... by his jolly boots of doom!" --Elves:: Invader Zim episode 29, The Most Horrible Xmas Ever
I was lucky (blessed?) enough to have a chance to visit the old museum, a few years before the fire. It was indeed very interesting, even from a strictly agnostic perspective. In fact, it would probably present more of a challenge to those whose faith is built on sand -- seeing how the practice of Christianity has changed and evolved over the past two thousand years is thought-provoking. I would expect it would be difficult for someone whose faith depends on the Voice of God sounding like a Shakespearean-era English nobleman.Originally Posted by darkblood
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals... Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. - B. Obama 1/20/09
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