Monday, June 25, 2007

Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition: The sweep of history
Quite a detailed look at the organization and thinking behind a blockbuster exhibition

If you decide, like thousands of others, to visit the much-anticipated “Dead Sea Scrolls” exhibition that opens at the the San Diego Natural History Museum Friday, you're unlikely to pay much attention to the environment that surrounds the landmark artifacts. And the museum's exhibition designers are happy you won't.
Jim Melli, exhibit preparator and artist, created vessels simulating artifacts from Qumran, the ancient town near caves that housed the Dead Sea Scrolls.“We want people to notice objects more than the walls, for the installation not to be overpowering. There's a lot of information to soak up in a certain period of time,” says Duke Windsor, former exhibit designer for traveling exhibitions at the museum, who oversaw the team that has given shape to the show.
Some exhibitions featuring famed artifacts lean on flash and visual theater. . . .“The Dead Sea Scrolls,” though it is a big-budget show ($6 million), is a different kind of blockbuster. Visually, the ambition is to create surroundings that complement what you see rather than steal the show.