The Center's original purpose was to explore the intersection of faith and culture through interactive displays, academic discussion and research, and museum exhibits. The academic discussions and special events reportedly have been successful. However, the center could not overcome optimistic attendance and financial projections that were based upon anticipated paid admissions. The new center was affected by a downturn in visitors following the 9/11 attack in the Washington, DC region just six months after opening and then an economic recession. The building eventually was open by appointment only and put up for sale.
Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, announced on August 2, 2011 plans to purchase the Cultural Center. The intent is to "create a shrine and museum honoring the life of Blessed Pope John Paul II.". The news was welcomed by Rev. Steven Boguslawski, O.P., executive director of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Foundation, which owns the building. He said the purchase would "bring a new vibrancy" to the building and that the papal memorabilia owned by the Foundation would continue to be displayed in an expanded exhibit managed by the new owner.