The Dead Sea Scrolls

Traveling Exhibit

Project Size: 8,000 square feet
Designers: Ralph Applebaum Associates

An Exhibit of Biblical Proportions

A one-of-a-kind traveling exhibit featuring over 500 artifacts from Biblical time commissioned by Discovery Times Square, debuted in New York in 2011 before launching on a tour that included shows in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Boston, and Denver. The experience begins with a narrated theater presentation before directing visitors through a series of displays showcasing the never-seen-before ancient artifacts from biblical times. The historic collection includes actual remnants of the Dead Sea Scrolls; texts which possess great historical, religious, and linguistic significance.

Protecting a Long-Lost Legacy

Showcasing the Dead Sea Scrolls for the public presented many challenges, from artifact preservation and security, to creating an ancient ambiance. Written on fragile parchment and papyrus, the scrolls are significant to several world religion traditions, making preservation techniques of paramount consideration. To adhere to the very limited amount of light exposure permissible to the scroll remnants, illumination levels were engineered within the exhibit to match the minimum number of foot-candles allowed by New York City building code. An ancient ambiance throughout the exhibit was achieved by covering the exhibit walls with real travertine marble tiles mounted backwards, with the polished side adhered to the wall and the rough side facing outward, creating a tactile element with pocks, fissures, and imperfections that felt dramatic and authentic to the caves where the Scrolls were first discovered. Cases were fabricated in modular sections to facilitate repeated dismantle, shipping and re-assembly of the travelling exhibit. Locked drawers and custom mounting brackets enabled curators to protect and rotate the artifacts on display at every stop on the tour.

The location of the New York exhibit space presented the challenge of two structural columns situated in the location of the circular Scroll Table. Casework was custom built to fit around the column, fine-tuning pieces onsite to ensure a perfect fit preserving the cosmetics of the exhibition. Extra panels were fabricated to eliminate the column holes for other tour locations. The exhibit was designed and fabricated with painstaking attention to detail from built shop drawings, engineering and fabrication of exhibitry, graphics, shipping, and installation on-site.