Thursday, August 12, 2021

What Happened to the Van Kampen Collection?


Christianity Today’s Daniel Silliman reports on the closure of the Holy Land Experience in Orlando. I’ve never been, but their Scriptorium attraction used to house the Van Kampen collection which apparently included part of the library of Eberhard Nestle. Do any of our readers know the fate of either the collection or Nestle’s library?


  1. I visited there once around 20 years ago, specifically by invitation in order to see several NT MSS containing the PA. The Bible exhibits were the best part of the entire park.

    Perhaps the Museum of the Bible should try to obtain Nestle's personal library, since they already have some of the Greek NT MSS from there?

  2. Brent Nongbri just posted about this today on Variant Readings. He writes, " I sent some queries to the contacts at the park, and I'm told that the collection was moved from the premises and is back in the care of the Van Kampen Foundation. I am not certain exactly where the items are physically located at present."

  3. In February of 2019, Katie Leggett and I were at the Scriptorium as part of my Nestle-Aland research project. Dean Tisch, who works for the Sola Group in Orlando and oversees the collection there, showed us the Van Kampen manuscripts. We were able to personally verify/update our information in the Liste with his assistance.

    I recently contacted Tisch again to ask about the fate of the collection now that the Holy Land Experience is being sold. We were informed that the Van Kampen Collection is a separate entity from the Holy Land Experience, and the VK Foundation will not be selling or separating the collection. Tisch also said the collection will be relocated but unfortunately they will keep the location private.

    For now we will update the Liste with the Van Kampen Collection as the holding institution and list the location as unknown.

    1. Hello, I was one of the historians who ran the tours at HLE. Describing the scrolls was one of my very favorite parts of my job. When I had time at the end of the day, I would walk through the Scriptorium.. and oft between shows I would take the long way round, through the streets of Holy Land in the setting sun - as while all the other guests and performers were inside watching the moving final shows about the stories of God.. I got to go out, and just experience God.. I'm thankful to have worked there.

      Anyway, what is this "Liste" you updated, Greg? Can anyone tell me more about this collection? I seem to forget the facts already.. what was the most ancient scroll, for instance? Wasn't there a really cool story to it?

  4. Most probably the remaining portion of the collection will be safely stored back at its original underground location in Grand Haven, Michigan.

  5. I met Dean Tisch, who, as noted by Greg, oversees the collection. I inspected a NT ms there in 2019 and had very pleasant interactions with him. As the sale of the property unfolded in local news, I reached out to ask if they needed help with moving/packing. I do know that the VK collection was being shipped around to various colleges and seminaries in 2019 and 2020, but my understanding is that nothing came of those various conversations. According to Holy Land employees, the collection was to be moved before a July 31 deadline.

  6. Replies
    1. I worked in the Grand Haven location on Sep 20, 2000. Unfortunately, all I have to contribute is that it was not underground. I do not know its present location and my inside contact is now deceased. I knew RVK when he was a boy. My source suggested his family lost interest in the collection. I don't know what to expect from them now.