One of the best kept not-so-secret fun places in Southern California is the California Science Center. This hands on museum is not only free ($10 to park though, cash only), but it is also a great way to spend the morning or afternoon with the little ones. If you haven't been able to check out the space shuttle Endeavor on display at the museum, you should do so!
Located in Exposition Park, which also houses the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, the California Science Center is also home to traveling exhibits. A few years ago, we saw an amazing Star Wars Exhibit. Beginning last March, a new exciting exhibit settled into the 3rd floor of the Science Center- Dead Sea Scrolls the Exhibition. Much more than just the Dead Sea Scrolls, this exhibit has 600 plus artifacts from the BC era that make it twice as amazing.
I have been wanting to see the Dead Sea Scrolls for quite some time. If you are not familiar with the story, back in the 1940's and early 1950's, the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves near the West Bank of the Jordan River in caves around the Dead Sea. The scrolls contained 981 scripts all rolled into jars to keep them preserved. What makes the scrolls significant is that they are the oldest known manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible (the old testament). The scrolls also contain other manuscripts that are not canonized in the Bible (such as Psalm 152-155 and the Book of Enoch), but contain religious script. It is believed that the scrolls were written in the last three centuries BCE (Before Common Era) and the start of CE (Common Era), although the exact dates have not been agreed upon.
Obviously, if you are religious, this exhibition is particularly meaningful. However, as someone with a degree in Human Development, the exhibition was also very exciting from a historical and sociological standpoint. Contained within the exhibit are not only the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are an amazing find in themselves, but tons of other artifacts. Guests are literally taken through time- BCE to CE to AD. It is quite moving to see artifacts such as coins, shoes, carved dolls, jewelry, combs and portions of alters from biblical times. All of the artifacts are clearly labeled and explained, but there is the option of an audio device (which can be rented for $5) that gives guests a little more in depth information. Towards the end of the exhibit, there is a place for guests to place their prayers on a real section of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
There is no photography allowed within the exhibit and, obviously, no touching. So if you have little ones, the best place for them to explore is the last part of the exhibit where things are broken down for them (Just how do they preserve things like scrolls? How do scientists re-construct broken artifacts? ).
Tip: My four year old was not able to appreciate the exhibit entirely and my seven year old was able to appreciate it for about a half hour. I would recommend 8 years or older for this experience.
Dead Sea Scrolls the Exhibition runs until September 7, 2015. Getting your tickets in advance is highly recommended- they often sell out on weekends. The tickets are $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids ages 4-12. Seniors (60+) are able to get a small discount at $16.95 for tickets and students with ID can also get a $16.95 ticket. If you are ordering your tickets in advance online, note that there is a $2 transaction fee.
Tip: The best times to come and avoid the crowds are at 10 a.m. opening and on weekdays.
The Science Center is also showing an IMAX film called Jerusalem, which may enhance the exhibit experience. Tickets for the IMAX film can be bought alongside the Dead Sea Scrolls tickets for an additional $6 per ticket.
This is an amazing experience and should not be missed!