A self-guided tour outlining the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses opened in October 2012 at our world headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. * The exhibit highlights the struggles, dangers, and triumphs experienced by some who have sought to practice Christianity.
Visitors take a tour through time, beginning with the Christian era in 33 C.E. and continuing to the present. The exhibit is arranged in four sections and includes a time line that ties the sections together. Each section has a Scriptural theme and is introduced by a short video that can be listened to in English, with subtitles in six additional languages—French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Main Sections of the Exhibit
The first section, “Men Have Loved the Darkness,” draws its name from the words of Jesus at John 3:19. The Bible foretold that wicked men would “rise and speak twisted things.” (Acts 20:30) Sobering reminders of the actions of such men fill the time line.
The second section has the theme “Let the Light Shine,” an expression used at 2 Corinthians 4:6. The time line marks the period from the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. This section begins with the story of earnest men who began a fresh study of the Scriptures and tells of their growth in knowledge and numbers before World War I.
The next part of this second section features the famous multimedia production known as the “Photo-Drama of Creation.” In 1914, the Bible Students (as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known) began showing this unique presentation, which combined still and motion pictures with recorded sound. In the years after its release, millions flocked to see this program. The exhibit includes some of the original artwork, a short video sampling of the program’s introduction, and over 500 color slides.
The third section has the theme “The Dragon Grew Wrathful,” which is taken from Revelation 12:17. It records the persecution suffered by Christ’s followers during the early 20th century and features inspiring stories of Christians who remained neutral during times of war. One video clip shows the story of Remigio Cuminetti, a Witness who refused to wear the military uniform of Italy or fight in World War I. Another tells of Alois Moser from Austria. He refused to say “Heil Hitler!” and for that he lost his job and was eventually confined in the Dachau concentration camp.
A somber, dimly lit mock-up of a jail cell provides the setting for pictures of Jehovah’s Witnesses who were imprisoned for practicing their faith in countries such as Greece, Japan, Poland, and Serbia.
The final section has the theme “Good News for All Nations,” which is based on Matthew 24:14 and outlines the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses from 1950 to the present. A collage of pictures tells the story of the rapid growth, persistent preaching, and brotherly love that are hallmarks of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Before leaving the exhibit, a visitor can use the interactive kiosks to explore the Bible House and the Brooklyn Tabernacle, buildings used by Jehovah’s Witnesses over 100 years ago.
Why Build the Exhibit?
A year of planning and months of construction went into this exhibit. Witnesses from all over the world contributed items that they considered to be treasured heirlooms.
Why was all this work done? When asked what benefit Jehovah’s Witnesses would gain from taking the tour, one member of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses repeated the well-known saying: “To know where we are going, we have to know where we have come from.”
^ par. 2 The exhibit is located at 25 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York, and is open from Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free.