History of The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum was founded in 1965, rising from the heart of Jerusalem as one of the premier cultural institutions of the world. Its creation was largely driven by a vision of Jerusalem’s then mayor, Teddy Kollek, who saw a need for a central place in Israel where the rich tapestry of global culture, history, and art could be showcased.
Envisioned as the national museum of Israel, it had an immense responsibility to bear: to curate and exhibit the heritage of a land steeped in thousands of years of history. Since its inception, the Israel Museum has exceeded expectations, housing collections that span prehistoric times to contemporary art.
Today, it stands as the country’s largest cultural institution and is renowned worldwide for its comprehensive and diverse displays.
The architecture of the museum is a masterpiece in itself. The museum’s original layout, designed by Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad, consists of a central thoroughfare or ‘Cardo,’ with various pavilions branching out, each housing a different subject area.
A massive renovation and expansion that took place from 2007 to 2010, under the design hand of James Carpenter Design Associates and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects, revitalized the museum, providing it with a new entrance pavilion and a fresh array of exhibition spaces.
Why Visit The Israel Museum
The Israel Museum offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to traverse through 5000 years of history, art, and culture under one roof. Housing an extensive collection of nearly 500,000 objects across various mediums, the museum is a testament to human creativity and civilization.
The museum is known for its archaeological exhibits, the most famous of which is the Shrine of the Book, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence.
The fine arts wing displays works from masters like Rembrandt and Pissarro, as well as contemporary art from around the globe. There’s also an impressive collection of Jewish art and artifacts that provide a rich depiction of Jewish culture through the ages.
Moreover, the museum’s commitment to education and community outreach ensures a variety of programs for people of all ages and interests, making it a worthwhile visit for both individuals and families.
Location and Route
The Israel Museum is located in the nation’s capital, Jerusalem, at 11 Ruppin Boulevard, in the neighborhood of Givat Ram, near the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), and adjacent to the Bible Lands Museum.
The city is well served by public transportation, and several buses stop nearby. For those driving, there’s a large car park that visitors can use. If you’re staying in central Jerusalem, the museum is also a reasonable distance for a bike ride or a long walk.
When to Visit
The Israel Museum is open from Sunday to Thursday, and Saturday, with Friday and holiday eves having shorter hours. It’s always best to check the museum’s official website for the most current opening hours and any special events or closures.
The museum can get quite busy, especially during Israeli holidays and the peak tourist season (April to October). Therefore, visiting in the morning on weekdays or during the off-peak season can provide a more relaxed experience.
What to See
1. Shrine of the Book
This is a must-see for anyone visiting the museum. The unusual white dome, reminiscent of the lid of the jars in which the scrolls were found, houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.
2. The Billy Rose Art Garden
Sculpture lovers will revel in this beautifully designed garden by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, displaying works from masters like Rodin, Picasso, and Henry Moore.
3. Archaeology Wing
Travel back in time as you explore the archaeological artifacts from the Land of Israel, including a fascinating collection of ancient coins.
4. Fine Arts Wing
This wing hosts a myriad of paintings, sculptures, and prints from globally renowned artists, including a comprehensive display of modern art.
5. Youth Wing
Designed for children and families, this area offers educational programs and exhibits aiming to make art and culture more accessible to young minds.
6. Jewish Art and Life Wing
Experience the richness of Jewish culture through artifacts such as ceremonial art, costumes, and a collection of decorated synagogue interiors.
In conclusion, the Israel Museum is more than a collection of artifacts; it is a monument to human history, creativity, and civilization. Its diverse offerings, spanning from prehistoric artifacts to modern art, make it an essential destination for art lovers, history buffs, and curious minds alike.