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The Scrolls as a Start, Not an End

November 1st, 2011

Don’t expect to see the glittering marvels of King Tut’s tomb. Few artifacts at the provocative new exhibition at Discovery Times Square —“The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times” — will inspire aesthetic wonder. Pottery, silver coins, iron arrowheads, limestone pitchers, scraps of parchment — such are the seemingly mundane yields of many archaeological excavations, and they are prevalent here as well.

The understated result is almost jarring. Other exhibitions created by Running Subway Productions in this space are typically more extroverted, whether they are large commercial ventures (a second show here is based on the television franchise “CSI”) or substantial historical examinations of Leonardo da Vinci’s inventions or Pompeii’s ruins.

And while there is some attempt at spectacle — when an actor welcomes you into a gallery showing stunning scenes of the Dead Sea, or when you descend a staircase and see 10 fragments of the scrolls dramatically arranged in a rotunda — this exhibition’s real enticements lie elsewhere. They come not from appearance, but from explanation; not from objects, but from connections among them; not from stunning displays, but from intellectual vistas.

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