Pope John Paul II Cultural Center

by Steve Ray on September 20, 2004

On Saturday we visited the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington DC. My wife and I took our daughter Emily and our grandson Dominic (18 months old). I had mixed emotions about the center. On the positive side I loved the Mountain of the Lord display with models of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the Temple of Solomon and Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. We will use these in our next video/DVD David and Solomon: Expanding the Kingdom because pictures and models of Solomon’s Temple are rare.

On the other hand, I don’t usually like modern, cold architecture. I don’t know why architects can’t design beautiful buildings anymore and why they have to make them look random, stark, and unwelcoming. Maybe I am alone in thinking the Cultural Center is such a building but at least my wife seemed to agree with me. I was glad to find it warmer on the inside, better than what the outside promised.

There were some wonderful things inside but it was empty of people. Except for the store keepers and a few guards, we were the only ones walking through the cavernous rooms and hallways. It was a little strange, but around noon I noticed two other couples walking around. I was told that it is often full of people – receptions and such are held there. We enjoyed the hundreds of pictures and memorabilia of John Paul II and the room for little kids was nice. I could tell a lot of thought and work had gone into the center. The gift shop was too small for my liking since I love to wander among books and Catholic treasures.

I am glad that the Catholic Church is presented in such a grand way and I’m glad I visited, but I’m still not sure what to think of the place.

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