Sections of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which date back more than two thousand years, are coming next year to Kansas City, the only Midwest stop on the tour.
The Israel Antiquities Authority has agreed to allow Union Station to display parts of six of the scrolls, which resound with the words of the Old Testament books of Genesis, Exodus, Joshua, Job and Psalms.
The Israeli government is very protective of the fragile scrolls and sent representatives to check out Union Station before agreeing to the exhibit. Some of the pieces of the scrolls have never been seen in the United States before.
"You can't put a price on these scrolls, that's how precious they are," said retired Rabbi Morris Margolies of Congregation Beth Shalom. Margolies has a doctorate in Jewish history and is helping Union Station as scholar-curator for the exhibit, which will run from Feb. 8 to May 13.
In addition to pieces of six original scrolls, there will be replicas of four others, and more than 100 scroll-related artifacts such as pottery and coins.
The scrolls coming to Kansas City are among those found in caves in the Judean desert, beginning with the 1947 discovery by a Bedouin boy. Their translations are remarkably close to today's biblical text sacred to the Judeo-Christian world. They give insight into the development of Judaism, and are contemporary to the time of Jesus and John the Baptist.
Kansas City will be the sixth US city to get the exhibit.
Union Station officials say it will cost $2.9 million (â‚¬2.24 million) to mount the exhibit, including security and custom fabrication of the display. A grant from the Hall Family Foundation will cover a little more than $1 million (â‚¬770,000) of that.
But Union Station estimates the exhibit will generate $4.3 million (â‚¬3.32 million) in ticket and retail sales.