FRAGMENTS from page 67
. "A document may have one fragment or 50. The
Psalms scroll that's coming, for example, is actually five
columns of text, 71 centimeters long. The text isn't
complete — it's decayed at the bottoms and it looks
like pieces are sewn on at the side — but it's big."
"Even if you saw the Chicago exhibit, still come to
see this one," says Herron. "It's a different group of
scrolls and a different group of artifacts. The content
is different, and the approach is completely different.
"We're really trying to understand who the people
of Qumran were, what they believed in, how they
lived and show why the scrolls are still important
2,000 years later," she says. "It's very comprehensive."
The Hebrew biblical text and the other Dead
Sea Scrolls fragments are stirring interest in
The Qumran Community
Grand Rapids, a solidly Christian faith- .
While most scholars believe the community of
based community. Some 13,000 timed
Qumran — a non-mainstream Judaic sect living in
tickets already have been sold.
Indeed, museum officials are
gearing up to welcome up to
200,000 visitors from a five-state
radius. The sleek, new Van Andel
complex beefed up its security and
ticketing systems to accommodate the
Even the cafeteria expanded its menu to
include hummus, tabbouleh and other
Featuring a simulated cave through which
visitors will walk and catch a glimpse of the
Dead Sea through a "window," the exhibit
strives to be accessible not only to adults
but to families and schoolchildren as well,
emphasizes Herron, who is writing much
of the informational text herself.
Above: A view of the ruins of Qumran.
Audio tours, videos, interactive exhibits
Left: Qumran coins: These silver coins, mostly shekalim and
and a series of appearances by Chicago sto-
half-shekalim, are part of a hoard of 561 coins found in pottery
ryteller Syd Lieberman, starting with the
under a doorway during the 1955 excavations at Qumran.
exhibit's Feb. 16 opening festivities, are
designed to attract families.
the Judean Desert along the Dead Sea during the
"One of the concepts we're trying to get kids
last period of the Second Temple — was composed
to understand is that this is the world's hardest
entirely of men, anthropologists are debating that
jigsaw puzzle," Herron says. Children may
point, following the discovery of a few cemetery
piece together a Dead Sea Scrolls puzzle in one
skeletons that may be female, Herron says.
of several hands-on activities.
At any rate, one of the reasons the residents of
The exhibit, she promises, will be a different
Qumran left mainstream Judaism, she says, is
experience than the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit in
because its members thought the priests in Jerusalem
2000 at the Field Museum in Chicago, which
drew 300,000 visitors in three months. (The only were corrupt and were defiling the Temple.
"They called themselves 'the Sons of Light,' and
previous Midwest showing was of three scrolls at
they believed God would help them defeat 'the Sons
the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute in
of Darkness,' and then they would go back to
1949, two years after they were discovered.)
Jerusalem and begin the new, purified Judaism," she
Susan R. Pollack is a Detroit News
"And that was basically what they were out in the
feature writer and freelance travel writer.
an Andel Museum Center is located
at 272 Pearl Street, NW, in down-
town Grand Rapids. For informa-
tion about "The Dead Sea Scrolls" exhibit
and related museum events, call
(616) 456-3977 or check online at
www.grmuseum.org. Packages at 11 area
hotels, including timed-ticket admission to
the exhibit, may be arranged through the
Grand Rapids Convention/Kent County
Convention and Visitors Bureau, (800)
678-9859 or www.visitgrandrapids.org .
• While in Grand Rapids, check out
the new special exhibit by world-
renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly
at Frederik Meijer Gardens &
Sculpture Park. Opening Jan. 17 and
running through May 17, "Color &
Light: Chihuly at the Gardens" show-
cases 40 glass creations, including a
new, permanent installation, a 14-foot