Cool jobs in the city: Hanging with the Dead Sea Scrolls

Actors and actress often wait tables or create lattes to pay their bills, but in Cincinnati, their expertise can lead to unexpected, and inspiring, jobs.

Take Dayton native Brittany Brown, 24. She moved to Cincinnati's Gaslight District in Clifton and plans to use her training from the College of Charleston and Wright State University to pursue acting opportunities in the Queen City. In November, she was hired as a Visitation Enhancement Specialist for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Brown recently shared her experiences and perspectives on her cool job with Soapbox.

Q: What is your role in the exhibit?

A: Visitation Enhancement Specialists run what’s called the desert orientation theater, which is the first part of the exhibit. We do a live presentation that introduces people to the exhibit and gives them a little background information to get them ready for what they are about to see.

I also do some tracking of traffic flow through the exhibit, so sometimes I am in the exhibit itself. But there is a separate job title for people with a little more content training, including people with biblical studies backgrounds or archaeology and history backgrounds. Those people are more familiar with specific content than the Visitation Enhancement Specialists would be.

Q: Are you enjoying the difference between having a traditional acting job and this role?

A: I am. I like the fact that I can still be creative. I can use what I learned at school, but I can go home at 5 p.m. I can sleep and have a normal schedule. And I like that I know what my schedule will be week to week.

Q: What is your favorite part of the Dead Sea Scrolls?

A: My favorite piece is the Western Wall and the replica of the wall. I had heard of the Wailing Wall before; that is probably the part of the exhibit I knew the most about coming in.

Just seeing [their reactions] once people realize that piece is real, and how much that means to so many people, is amazing. And then they have the live feed so you can actually see people there, I think that’s really cool. And also the fact that you can write prayers. A lot of people miss it in the exhibit, which makes me sad. You can actually write a prayer, and I know they have already sent some of them to Israel.

Q: The last room in the exhibit is centered on Cincinnati’s relationship with the Dead Sea Scrolls. Have there been a lot of people drawn to the exhibit because of that?

A: I don’t think a lot of people know. If anything, the people who attend or work with Hebrew Union College are the ones who know. We’ve had people come through who work there. The vast majority of people that I have talked to don’t realize why the exhibit is in Cincinnati and why it is so personal to Cincinnati. Something I try to do is encourage people to slow down at the end. Some people skip the end of the exhibit and don’t realize the local connection is actually really cool.

Q: A lot of time actors get though their education, have a job for a while, and then move to a bigger city like Chicago or LA, but you’re moving to Cincinnati. Do you get a lot of questions about that?

A: I do, especially from the people that I have worked with. I came from Charleston, where I went to school, which has a huge arts community. And then I moved back to Dayton because that is where my family is from, and I missed them. I thought about going to bigger cities, but what I want to do with my degree is just a little different.

If I happen to be on Broadway someday, that would be fantastic. But, it’s not what drives me. I like the fact that I can use theater and education. I like Cincinnati because it’s enough of a city that there is a lot here and a lot to do, but I can still drive my car and go home on the weekends if I need to see my family. It’s a great city, but it’s not overwhelming.

Q: Do you have an idea of where you want your career to go?

A: I really, really want to continue using theater as an education tool. A lot of my courses in school were for theater and education. I did some creative drama, figuring out how I can take this lesson and use theater and the arts to make it interesting and apply to more people. I would like to find an outlet to do that.

Normally, I am a crazy planner and get super nervous. I’ve just realized that in your 20s, that doesn’t work out as you planned. So I am kind of just going with it right now.

Q: What’s your favorite place in Cincinnati?

A: Some of my coworkers and I do Taco Tuesdays at Habanero. So good!

You can visit Brown and the Dead Sea Scrolls (featuring the second scroll rotation) until April 14 at the Cincinnati Museum Center.

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