Ancient Treasures of the Holy Land: First- class exhibit worth time and trip to the city

BY TERRY MATHEWS | News-Telegram Arts Editor

May 14, 2007 - If ancient history and the rich heritage of the holy land is of interest to you, there’s a special exhibition at Fair Park in Dallas guaranteed to delight.

Thomas Kincaid

“Prayer for Peace” Poster

Ancient Treasures of the Holy Land, which runs through July 28, is one of the most extensive collections of holy land artifacts currently on tour.

The exhibit isn’t just some thrown together mix-match of history. It’s a stunning production, reminiscent of offerings by the finest museums of the world.

According to information from the exhibit’s website, the Treasures of the Holy Land was developed “as a result of collaboration among the Institute of Archeology of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Programa I Design Studio, and the world’s top experts in Israeli archeology history and themed storytelling.”

Over 340 artifacts make up the basis of the exhibit, but the curators have not fallen into the trap of simply displaying the pieces with no supporting interests.

Visitors stroll through eras of ancient time, each area dramatically highlighted by sculptures, floating tapestries decorated with ancient Hebrew letters; with everything accentuated by strategically placed and highly effective lighting.

Information about the pieces is either hung on the way next to the dramatic display cases or tucked neatly next to the artifact.

In addition to religious items, the cases contain oil lamps, pieces of pottery, coins, jewelry and weapons. The exhibit also has two pieces of the rare Leviticus and Deuteronomy Dead Sea Scrolls on display under special lighting and security to protect it from the elements, much like the way the Declaration of Independence is showcased in Washington. 

To do justice to the experience, you’ll need about 90 minutes to take the self-guided tour. Headphones are available for those who want to hear a more detailed explanation of the displays. 

At the end of the exhibit, visitors can watch a 3D video of the scenic countryside. 

There is an interactive archeological “dig” for children in the front lobby of the exhibit.

The exhibit also features a bazaar for shopping with items made in the holy land. The bazaar also showcases the works of artist Thomas Kincaid, who painted several scenes inspired by his recent trip to Israel.

We were lucky to have the exhibit’s General Manager Dennis  Malone as our guide when we visited. Beside being an ordained minister, Malone holds a masters degree in both biblical studies, specializing in the history and civilization of the area.

The depth of his knowledge is as impressive as his passion for the holy land. He recently spent six weeks at an archaeological site in Jordan and Israel and said, “I would still be there, if my wife was not with me.”

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Malone and his wife are living in an apartment in the north Dallas area until the exhibit closes in July.

�We�re actually looking at Dallas as a permanent home for the pieces,� Malone said. �This exhibit is more than just artifacts. It�s the telling of the story of the time from Abraham to Jesus.�

If you’re going with a group of 25 or more, arrangements can be made to have a guided tour. Request Malone as your leader and take along pen and paper, because you’re going to want to remember what he says.

If you see the exhibit on a weekend, you can enhance your experience by dining on a First Century meal of lentil soup, hummus, pita bread, olive oil, salad, with olives and cucumbers. The meal was tasty, filling and refreshing. The cost is $8.95.

The exhibit runs from now until July 28. It’s at the Embarcadero Building, on the mall, at the State Fair Grounds in Dallas. 

Exhibit hours are Sunday - Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. and Friday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Prices are as follows: adults – $16.95; seniors – $13.95; college students – $13.95; children ages 6-13 –  $6.95 (children under 6 - free); school groups (K-12, 10 or more) $ 6.00; children’s archaeological dig – $5.00.

First Century meal and exhibit combo tickets are $19.95. 

Family prices are capped at $50 per family (must be immediate family).

Please call for special prices for groups over 25.

Tickets may be purchased online at www.holyland1.com, with tickets e-mailed, or available for pickup at will call; by phone at 866-698-5333; or upon arrival at the exhibit.

The exhibit is wheelchair accessible. Cameras are not allowed inside and parking is free.

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