Got a little Indiana Jones at home?  If your budding archaeologist likes to bury toys in the backyard and use a toothbrush to remove the dirt, the California Science Center’s newest exhibit is for you. From now until September 7, 2015 selections from the Qumran dig, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, pottery, and coins, are available for viewing. Step back in history with this trip to Exposition Park.

Entrance of California Science Center

photo credit: Genevieve via flickr

Strolling To The Scrolls
Currently, this exhibit is the hottest ticket in town, so plan on long wait-times (even with a ticketed entry) to enter the exhibit during weekends and holidays. The long lines also extend to the actual exhibit with people jockeying for position to read the informational screens on the displayed items. Which leads us to Insider Tip #1: Go on a weekday!  If that’s not possible, try and get the first timed tickets of the day, when there’s less chance of a back-up inside the exhibit.

Dead Sea Scrolls Ancient Pottery Faces

photo credit:  Jim the Photographer via flickr

After a quick and interesting introduction, you’ll be directed to enter the exhibit. Don’t miss the display of these tiny pottery faces, which kids can try making at home with clay!

Roman Bath Dead Sea Scrolls

photo credit: Jim the Photographer via flickr

This Roman bath includes a seat, which is an instant visual hit with the kiddos. Not to mention the parents. Insider Tip #2: Keep an eye on the little ones. Some of the displayed items, like this, are perfect height for wandering hands and bodies.

Amphora that contained Dead Sea Scroll

photo credit: Jim the Photographer via flickr

The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in jars similar to the one displayed.

Dead Sea Scroll

photo credit: Ken and Nyetta via flickr

Finally: the Dead Sea Scrolls! At last you arrive at a large circular table. The user-friendly display allows for amazing viewing. Some pieces of the scroll are hard to read but don’t despair, each piece is translated, in a section to the right of the actual scroll, and next to the translation is an enlarged picture of the actual scroll being viewed. Insider Tip #3:  Don’t be intimated by the crowds and take your time to read the informational material. Also, bring reading glasses if you need ’em, the room is dimly-lit.

But Wait, There’s More
So you completed your quest, and saw the scrolls.  But you’re not done! Head to the 10 Commandments section, in a corner nook by the Dead Sea Scrolls, and let little darlings push buttons that aren’t yours. This interactive demonstration speaks the commandment of the pushed button, and at the same time displays the piece of scroll where it is written. It’s a great set up for a Charlton Heston movie night, later on.

After you are buttoned out, make your way to the final section: Masada. A replica of the Jerusalem Western Wall appears to the right along with paper and pens. Pretend you are in Israel and leave a written note in a section of the wall. When the show closes, all notes will be collected by the Israel Antiquities Authority and delivered to Jerusalem. This section also hosts a live camera feed of the actual Western Wall.

Outside the exhibit an interactive section greets you. Try your hand at reassembling potsherds or be a scribe and practice Hebrew writing.

Wallets beware! The only way out is through the gift shop.


Inside Tip #4: Don’t miss the IMAX movie, Jerusalem 3D, for a huge dose of eye candyFor kids that  were bored by the pottery and papyrus, a 3D movie experience proves far more accessible.  And for kids that dug the exhibit, this reinforces all that they learned.

Still want more? Make it a day event and hit Endeavor and the ecosystems exhibits. The aquarium and touch ponds located on the 2nd floor are some of the favorite areas at the museum for kids of all ages.

The Parent 411
Ages: Open to everyone, but geared for kids ages 8 & up. While there are interesting bits for kids of all ages, toddlers and preschoolers will have a tough time keeping little hands to themselves and will be bored quickly, making the exhibit an exercise in herding, rather than learning, for parents.

Parking: Parking costs $10 per car, or choose the Metro Expo Line at the Expo Park/USC station. The Science Center is an easy walk (0.2 miles).

Potties: Potties abound throughout the Science Center and many offer diaper changing station.

Tickets & Cost: Tickets for this exhibit are required and can be purchased through the California Science Center’s website. Prices range from $12.75-$19.75 for the exhibition alone, or $16.25-$26 for the exhibition / IMAX movie combo.  Discounts are available for members.

Hours: Open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through September 7, 2015.

Eats: Casual dining is located on the first floor. Choose from grilled items, fresh fruit, and salads. Plenty of seating, inside and outside, to choose from.  Or bring a picnic and dine al fresco in the Rose Garden.

California Science Center
700 Exposition Park Blvd.
Exposition Park
Phone: 323-724-3623

Have you been to see the Dead Sea Scrolls? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

—Erica Groten