Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Review

Recently, my friend and I went to the Milwaukee Public Museum to attend the largest temporary exhibit, the Dead Sea Scrolls. The "Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible" explores the history of the Holy Land from the third century BC to the first century AD. Then it jumps to the 1940s and explains the first discovery of the scrolls. There were over 160 artifacts along with display boards that gave a clear and concise history of that region during the time the scrolls were written. However, to better understand this mammoth exhibit, it is wise to do some background reading to get familiar with the different themes of that period. Or you can ask for an audio guide that explains each of the archaeological objects and their significance.

The layout of the exhibit was well done with fake palm trees, the desert like walls and flooring along with the sound effects of wind that places you in time when the scrolls were written. Just like traveling through the desert, this exhibit takes on a long journey (some say about two hours) to absorb the richness of the display. It is well worth the time and the exhibit ends with the Dead Sea Scrolls, themselves, that captures the beliefs of Judaism and Christianity and displayed ever so carefully into thick glass cases where one can take in the beauty of salvation history.

Exhibits like the Dead Sea Scrolls are part of the ever developing field of public history. Public history is how the vast majority of the public learn and appreciate the role of history in everyday life by visiting Museums, historical sites and societies rather than reading a bunch of books. Finally, as exhibits like this one continue to come to the Milwaukee Public Museum, not only the institution itself will flourish, but also the publics' understanding of history will flourish too.

I hope that you take the time and attend this exhibit at the Museum which concludes in June. This exhibit is the latest high profile show that is helping the Milwaukee Public Museum to be a world class museum after it suffered some hard times. For more information on the Dead Sea Scrolls please follow this link that I have provided.

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