OKLAHOMA CITY - The Green family, owners of the Hobby Lobby national crafts and hobbyist supply store (it has a vast high tech in-house retail display wood manufacturing plant) are reported to be under investigation for illegal imports of antiquities. Federal agents are said to have intercepted a cache of ancient cuneiform documents as they were being shipped by FedEx to Hobby Lobby headquarters in Oklahoma City in 2011.
The artifacts were to go on exhibit at the Museum of the Bible, now under construction in Washington, DC, which will showcase the Green family's collection and other biblical artifacts. The eight-story, 430,000-square-foot museum, opening in 2017, will be dedicated to a scholarly and engaging presentation of the Bible's impact, history, and narrative.
"Hobby Lobby is cooperating with the investigation related to certain biblical artifacts," Hobby Lobby said in a statement published at media outlets. "The Museum of the Bible is a separate not-for-profit entity made possible, in part, by the generous charitable contributions of the Green family."
The Green family holds claim one of the largest collections of cuneiform tablets in North America, most of which date to the late third and early second millennium BCE, the time period traditionally associated with Abraham. This includes the Gilgamesh Dream Tablet, a large cuneiform tablet from the second millennium BCE that contains text from the Epic of Gilgamesh, one of the most important literary works to have survived from Ancient Mesopotamia
Museum of the Bible
The Green family fortune from the U.S. retail chain Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. is estimated at $5.5 billion. The museum is a benefactor of the family largesse.
The Green's purchased their first biblical artifact in November 2009. Now the Green Collection, a compilation of around 40,000 objects includes some of the rarest and most significant biblical texts and artifacts ever assembled under one roof, also includes Dead Sea Scroll fragments, biblical papyri and manuscripts, Torah scrolls, and rare printed Bibles.
Hobby Lobby woodworking plant.
In 1970, entrepreneurs David and Barbara Green, along with their young family, began making miniature picture frames in their garage. A few years later, on August 3, 1972, the Green family opened the first Hobby Lobby store, a 300 square foot retail space. Hobby Lobby has not stopped growing since.
Today, Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, operates over 600 stores across the nation that average 55,000 square feet. Hobby Lobby offers more than 70,000 arts, crafts, hobbies, home decor, holiday, and seasonal products. Hobby Lobby is included in Forbes’ annual list of America’s largest private companies. Privately held Hobby Lobby carries no long-term debt.
The Green family is forthright about its religious leadings, and notes at its "About Us" section on its website, "We believe that it is by God’s grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured. God has been faithful in the past, and we trust Him for our future." Earlier this year the company funded a successful challenge in the Supreme Court to provisions of the Affordable Care Act requiring birth control.
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