The exhibit, open through Oct. 18, is the largest of its kind since the scrolls were discovered in the '40s and '50s, said Steven Snyder, the institute's vice president for exhibit and program development.
"The concepts that these scrolls describe have been encountered by so many people and taken all over the world," Snyder said. "The scrolls really are a global cultural treasure, not the treasure of particular peoples."
The scrolls date from the last centuries B.C. and the first century A.D.; they are the oldest known written accounts of biblical moments including the creation of the Earth and Moses' struggle with the Egyptian Pharaoh. To prevent light damage, only 10 scrolls will be displayed at a time, in two rotations, Snyder said.
The hundreds of additional artifacts range from the grandly historical - a three-ton block of the Western Wall thought to have fallen during the Roman siege of Jerusalem - to the stuff of everyday ancient society, such as a pot from a "3,000-year-old storefront," Snyder said. Visitors may find some resemblances between then and now.
"The more things change, the more things stay the same," Snyder said. "Those kinds of ideas come up in this exhibit as well."
The exhibit is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday at 222 N. 20th St. Daytime admission is $31.50 ($25 for ages 3 to 11); admission after 5 p.m. is $19.50 ($12.50 ages 3 to 11). Information: 215-448-1200, www.fi.edu.
Looking for a double dose of Barnes?
The celebration carries over to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for its "PAFA and Dr. Barnes" exhibit, which runs through July 8. It includes works by some of collector Albert Barnes' favored artists.
"I thought that it'd be a good-neighbor, welcome-to-the-community thing to do," said Robert Cozzolino, a senior curator at PAFA.
Barnes exhibited works from his collection at the academy in 1923, but not all reviewers greeted them fondly. It wasn't exactly the "shock of the new," according to Cozzolino. "There was a lot of personal animosity towards Barnes that fueled the criticism."
PAFA will be displaying artists that Barnes himself collected or had an interest in. They include two Philadelphia natives: Arthur B. Carles, the modernist painter who persuaded Barnes to exhibit at the academy, and Barnes adviser William J. Glackens.
Admission to PAFA is $10 to $15; children under 12 free. The academy, 118-128 N. Broad St., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays. Information: 215-972-7600, www.pafa.org.
On the Parkway, the Free Library is lending its walls to Philly's living artists.
"Stonewalled: Five Artists Install on the Walls of the Free Library of Philadelphia" features contemporary works in the library's H.O.M.E. Page Cafe. One of the artists, Timothy Gierschick, whose work utilizes starkly colored geometric shapes and found objects, works with the Barnes Foundation.
"Stonewalled" is freely accessible and will run through July 28 at the library, 1901 Vine St. It is in part an effort by the library to assert itself in the arts district, said Aurora Deshauteurs, curator of the print and picture collection at the library.
"We're trying to figure out where we stand at this incredible avenue," Deshauteurs said.
Included in "Stonewalled" are works by Tara Ivins, Lisa Murch, Mauro Zamora, and Ben Volta, who added elements of his "Shape Invaders" throughout the library with the help of students from Grover Washington Jr. Middle School. The artists tackle themes like architecture and deterioration, the natural world versus the industrial, and the power of information.
"They're all engaging the community in some way," Deshauteurs said.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is taking the arts outdoors this weekend. With the Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Department, the museum opened "Lines in Four Directions in Flowers," a garden 30 years in the making. Designed by Sol LeWitt, a conceptual art leader who conceived the project and died in 2007, the garden contains more than 7,000 plantings in the William M. Reilly Memorial near the museum's sculpture garden.
The museum's current exhibits include "Rockwell Kent - Voyager: An Artist's Journey in Prints, Drawings, and Illustrated Books" through July 29. Admission is $16; $14 for those 65 and older; $12 for students and children 12 to 18; free under 12. The museum, 26th Street and the Parkway, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuedays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; and 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. Fridays. Information: 215-763-8100, www.philamuseum.org.
For advance planners: If following the Barnes' opening, you remain transfixed by Cézanne's bathers, consider returning to the Parkway on July 20, when "Gauguin, Cézanne, Matisse: Visions of Arcadia" will open at the Art Museum.