Museum of the Bible Features ‘Billy Graham’s Canvas Cathedral’

By   •   May 8, 2024

Billy Graham preached 65 sermons during his 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, which was held under a large tent known as the Canvas Cathedral. Originally scheduled for three weeks, the historic gathering was extended to eight weeks as God drew thousands each night.

During Billy Graham’s early ministry, many venues couldn’t accommodate large gatherings.

So, in 1949, two large circus tents were combined to house the Los Angeles Crusade at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Hill Street. This unique venue inspired a new exhibit at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., called “Billy Graham’s Canvas Cathedral.”

Now through January 26, 2025, visitors will find items and memorabilia from Billy Graham’s life and ministry, provided by the Billy Graham Archive and Research Center.

Guests can see a pulpit Billy Graham used in the late 1940s, a briefcase he carried around the world, and typed sermon notes with handwritten additions. The exhibit focuses on the evangelist’s eight decades of ministry—and how the Bible was at the center of it all as he shared the powerful message of the Gospel.

>>Get details on a special exhibit called “Billy Graham’s Canvas Cathedral” at the Museum of the Bible.

“It’s the story of his life but through the lens of an individual proclaiming the Word of God,” said David Bruce, executive vice president of the Billy Graham Library and Billy Graham Archive and Research Center. “He would use Scriptures as he preached, often saying how the Holy Spirit would take the very Word of God and drive it into a human heart.”

A look at the Museum of the Bible’s new exhibit.

Canvas Cathedral

More than 350,000 people attended the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade, and during the latter half of the Crusade, all 7,000 seats were full, with crowds spilling into the street. Over 3,000 people made a decision for Christ.

After the Crusade, Billy Graham’s ministry grew exponentially, partially propelled by the media’s heavy coverage of the events—and it helped open the door to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ in stadiums and other venues all around the world.

This is the second time the Museum of the Bible has featured Billy Graham’s ministry. Following his passing in 2018, the museum honored his legacy through an exhibit called “Pilgrim Preacher.”

“Interwoven into [these exhibits] is the Gospel message that he preached,” said Bruce, “which is the story of Jesus Christ. It’s the method by which God uses to convert someone from death to life, from sin to salvation.”

Explore Billy Graham’s lifelong commitment to sharing the Gospel worldwide at the Museum of the Bible.


By the time it ended, over 350,000 people had filled the Canvas Cathedral in Los Angeles to hear Billy Graham share God’s love.