Get Geeked: Dead Sea Scrolls Finally Here! (And, Your Chance for Free Tix)

Disclaimer: This is not a hard-hitting news piece about the The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota. While there may be a few facts and figures, this is the story of one ridiculously geeked-out girl encountering the scrolls for the first time. In Minnesota of all places.
I had the chance to see the scrolls years ago when I was a college senior visiting Jerusalem. There was a gala event at The Israel Museum as a wrap-up to a conference I was attending. But, rather than go to the gala, I decided to go have burgers with my newly-found Israeli friends. I’ve never regretted that decision. But I can’t say that I wasn’t excited beyond words when I heard that the scrolls were making there way here to the Twin Cities and I would finally get the chance to see them.
And that’s exactly the sentiment that I kept getting glimpses of as the exhibition was opened to the press, one day before its public opening on Friday, March 12. From the museum staff to the representatives from the Israel Antiquities Authority to the members of the media – there was a feeling of electricity and excitement buzzing all around. And, why wouldn’t there be? As exhibition advisor Dr. Michael Wise put it, this is a chance to see “real treasure” (And Dr. Wise should know real treasure when he sees it – he studied in some of the same classrooms that Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones taught in).
The exhibition, with admission tickets that are timed and dated, starts with a dramatic introduction by a museum staff person accompanied by a video display. I’ll admit that this wasn’t my favorite part – it reminded me a bit of that cheesy movie that you see when you visit Masada. From there, however, everything is absolutely amazing.
The exhibition consists of several galleries. I had the chance to chat briefly with Mike Day, SVP of Museum Enterprises, who explained to me that the gallery flow serves to provide context before you enter the room where the scroll fragments are housed. You’ll have the chance to get geographical, historical and cultural context so that you can better understand the questions surrounding the scrolls. He pointed out that, along with the other 200+ artifacts, the exhibition starts with a scroll jar, paralleling the story of the scrolls’ modern discovery near Qumran. But all of the contextual information stops when you enter the scroll gallery.
In a dimly lit room, five sets of scroll fragments are on display. (Throughout the course of the exhibition, which runs through October, there will be three rotations of fragments – a total of fifteen scrolls in all.) It is in this room that everybody’s voices became hushed. Maybe it was the mood lighting (which also serves to protect the fragments from light damage), but I suspect it had more to do with the awe of being so close to history. Of being so close to the oldest known transcriptions of Biblical scripture. It doesn’t matter if or what you believe – there’s something spiritual about being in the same room with these scroll fragments. Which is why I was so ridiculously geeked to see them. And why you should be too.
Want to see the exhibition for free?
Let us know in the comment section below what has you so excited to see the scrolls. The winner will be randomly drawn from all entries received by noon on Monday, April 12. They’ll get a pair of vouchers which can be exchanged for tickets for the day and time of their choosing before August 31st.
Too excited to wait to win?
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Words that Changed the World runs from March 12 – October 24. Tickets are $28 for adults, $22 for kids and seniors. Ticket price includes museum admission, exhibition admission and an audio tour.
(Photo of Scroll: Israel Antiquities Authority via Science Museum of MN)