Holyland Exhibition – Los Angeles, California - Atlas Obscura

Holyland Exhibition

Small museum packed with artifacts recovered by the man rumored to be the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones. 


To understand what makes this small museum so special, you first must understand the man behind its inception. Antonia F. Futterer is often compared to Indiana Jones (perhaps unfairly, as it’s rumored that the character is actually based on him; not the other way around).

In the early 1900s, Futterer was struck ill with severe appendicitis. His prayers for a recovery were answered soon after, leading to a strong belief in the Bible. In 1926, his new-found relationship with religion led to a number of expeditions to the Holy Land, culminating in a personal quest for the Golden Ark of the Covenant.

Unlike the film hero, Futterer never found the Ark, but he did amass quite a collection of artifacts from Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, and Palestine. With a large collection and nowhere to store it, Futterer founded a five-room museum in Los Angeles to house his goods, and they remain there to this day.

Items range from small pieces such as 5,000-year-old oil lamps, bottles, coins, ivory and silver Mideastern jewelry, and tapestries to a mummy casket dating back to 600 years before the birth of Christ and a 2,700-year-old sarcophagus. Other highlights include an ancient game table from Damascus featuring 10,000 inlaid pearls and wood from fourteen different fruit trees, and three ears of now-extinct Egyptian corn.

In a nice touch, after each tour, guests are treated to a grape drink, some Mandel (almond) bread, and apricot fruit leather imported from Damascus.

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August 5, 2010

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