TORONTO.- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty today announced that the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) will present the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition, one of the most important exhibitions in the Museums history, from Saturday, June 27, 2009 until Sunday, January 3, 2010. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for ROM visitors to view these historical treasures, the subject of great scholarly and public interest, as well as heated debate and controversy, since their discovery over 60 years ago. A collaboration of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) and the ROM, Dead Sea Scrolls, the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of these materials ever assembled in Canada, will be on display in the ROMs Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall on level B2 in the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.
Premier McGuinty said, I want to congratulate the ROM for bringing this compelling exhibition to Toronto. It is a great opportunity for visitors and it will attract people to the city from all over North America. That's good for the ROM, it's good for Toronto and good for the economy."
Premier McGuinty also introduced the three co-chairs of the Dead Sea Scrolls Community Advisory Panel: Mohammad Al Zaibak, Co-founder, President and CEO of Canadian Development and Marketing Corporation CDMC and CDM Information Inc.; Tony Gagliano, CEO of St. Josephs Media; and Jonas Prince, Chairman of Realstar Group. The Advisory Panel brings together a diverse group of influential community leaders to assist in forming partnerships, advise the ROM on exhibition programming, and identify sources of sponsorship.
William Thorsell, ROM Director & CEO, told the gathering, The ROM is elated to work with this diverse community group to present these highly significant writings. ROM visitors of all faiths, religions and backgrounds will be inspired by the words written 2,000 years ago. These are foundation documents for several great traditions. What a magnificent opportunity to explore their place in human
Premier McGuinty and Mr. Thorsell were joined by special guests, including Consul General of Israel Amir R. Gissin; Ontario Minister of Culture Aileen Carroll; Head of the Department for the Treatment and Conservation of Artifacts at the Israel Antiquities Authority Pnina Shor; and Dead Sea Scrolls guest curator, Dr. Risa Levitt Kohn.
Dr. Levitt Kohn, an alumna of both York University and University of Toronto and Director of the Jewish Studies program at the San Diego State University, commented, This exhibition is an exceptionally unique opportunity for a Canadian audience to view some of the worlds most important documents and artifacts, all in the same space. Among the scrolls are some of the oldest discovered texts of the Hebrew Bibletexts that have had an enormous influence on western culture. These scrolls shed light on the life, faith and culture of ancient Judea at the dawn of Judaism and Christianity. Dr. Levitt Kohn was the curator of the enormously successful Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition at the San Diego Museum of Natural History in 2007.
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered by Bedouin goat-herders and by archaeologists between 1947 and 1956 in 11 caves on the north-western shore of the Dead Sea. The scrolls, written between 250 BCE and 68 CE, had remained hidden in the caves for some 2000 years. More than 100,000 fragments were uncovered and pieced into over 900 separate texts. Among these are the earliest known texts of the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament). In addition to the biblical manuscripts, sectarian texts were discovered reflecting a wide variety of literary genres including religious legal writings, prayers and compositions predicting the coming of an apocalypse. The scrolls provide a rare glimpse into a culture that played a crucial role in the transition from the ancient religion of the Bible to Judaism and Christianity.
The ROM will display 16 authentic Dead Sea Scrolls during the six month engagementeight different scrolls for each three-month periodincluding fragments from the books of Genesis, Deuteronomy and Psalms as well as the sectarian Community Rule, War Scroll and Messianic Apocalypse. Five fragments, never before publicly displayed, are being conserved especially for the ROM. All scrolls will be presented with full interpretations, translations and background information.
Also showcased will be artifacts from Khirbet Qumran, the ancient site closest to where the scrolls were discovered, in addition to unique pieces from Jerusalem during the period of the Second Temple. Visitors will learn about the fascinating discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, their academic and biblical significance, as well as the period in history in which they were written. Objects from the ROMs own collections will complement the display, providing additional context to life in ancient Judea almost 2,000 years ago.