Saturday, February 17, 2007

By the Dead Seaside

I mentioned previously that my Supermodel Wife and I went to Union Station Wednesday to see the famous Dead Sea Scrolls.

We were both excited to see this exhibit. It has certainly been ballyhooed in KC since it opened a few weeks ago. The actual experience didn't necessarily live up to my expectations. Don't get me wrong, there were some very positive points. But there were a few things that left me thinking it could have been much better.

First, despite the millions of dollars spent to bring the exhibit to KC, despite all of the preparation and publicity, when we actually arrived at Union Station the admission process didn’t say "We're excited you’re here and we want you to see this exhibit."

There was a single person selling tickets at the ticket counter. I imagine they typically don't need more than one person on a Wednesday morning at Union Station. From what I've heard, foot traffic can get pretty non-existent there. But one would think that the heightened traffic drawn by the Dead Sea Scrolls would have been anticipated, and our 20-minute wait on line could have been avoided.

When it was finally our turn with the ticket agent, we were told that the 11 a.m. was the earliest time we would be able to view the exhibit. I’m not sure why the viewings were scheduled in blocks like this, perhaps to limit the size of the crowd inside the exhibit. If that’s the case, why not just keep track of how many people go in and come out, thus ensuring a constant number of visitors at anyone time.

But hey, what do I know.

Once we actually were admitted to see the exhibit, it was pretty darn good. There was a good amount of archaeological and historical background detailing how the scrolls were found, how they were preserved, who wrote them and hid them, etc.

And thanks to a device called an "audio wand" – essentially an mp3 player with a keypad to dial up each audio track – those of us who are really lazy didn't have to read the comments throughout the exhibit because they were being read to us.

The scroll fragments themselves were very different from what I expected. Maybe it's too much Fiddler on the Roof, or Indiana Jones, but I had this vision in my mind of a Tora-type document rolled around wooden handles a couple of feet long. Of course I expected them to be highly deteriorated and barely legible after 2000 years.

The actual scrolls are only a few inches high, about the dimension of a roll of toilet paper. Though deteriorated by time, the writing that is left is exquisite. It is very clear and highly legible (assuming, of course, that you're fluent in ancient Aramaic or Hebrew).

Despite the hassle of getting in to see the scrolls, it was pretty amazing and awe inspiring to stand inches away from ancient texts that were written before the time of Black Jesus.

Should you go see the scrolls? If you're really into history as I am, go see them. If you don’t mind a few hassles, go see them. If you can afford the price of admission without sacrificing your Friday night weed money, go see them. And if you don’t mind hanging out with a bunch of oxygen tank breathing, walker using, slow moving geezers, go see them.

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  1. I am planning on going. Been looking forward to it. In fact, I might do it Monday morning (I get President's day off)and take my daughter.

    I think it's awesome that one of the newest methods of conveying information (mp3 playing flash drives) is being used to guide you through a display of one of the oldest methods of conveying information.

  2. This is exactly what I want out of a blog post, Emaw. Thanks for the report. (And I don't care that Tim Hardaway hates me.)

  3. That's freaking awesome! I hope that exhibit comes to Philadelphia. I was suppose to go see the Tut exhibit March 4th but I am flying to Florida for the next 2 weekends. I went to see Body World. That was cool, a little long for me but I see anatomy everyday...nonetheless, interesting...

  4. Echelle,

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad to see your still around. I just got back from Florida. Have a fun on the beach.


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