The Israel Museum is an iconic institution located in Jerusalem, Israel, that showcases the country's rich history and cultural heritage through its vast collection of art, archaeology, and Judaica.
The museum was founded in 1965 by Jerusalem Mayor, Teddy Kollek who, aside from being one of Israel’s most iconic personalities, was a strong supporter of archaeology. Kollek believed that it was important to preserve and promote the archaeological heritage of Israel and in his first year as Mayor, worked to make the museum a reality. Since its founding, the museum has since become one of the most important cultural institutions in the country, attracting millions of visitors every year.
The Museum is located across from the Israeli Knesset on a 20-acre campus that includes several buildings and outdoor spaces. The main building, designed by the renowned Israeli architect Alfred Mansfeld along with Dora Gad, houses the museum's permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. The campus also includes a brilliant and interactive Youth Wing, which is dedicated to art education for children and families, as well as the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.
The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls enthralled us in the first decade of Israeli independence. Delighted to accompany their reinstallation at the Shrine of the Book, ahead of the museum's reopening tomorrow where this priceless cultural asset will be back on public display. pic.twitter.com/izRp9hKTUy— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) August 12, 2020
The Israel Museum is divided into several departments, each dedicated to a different aspect of the country's cultural heritage. The Art Wing features a vast collection of European and Israeli art, including works by artists such as Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh. The museum also has a significant collection of African, Asian, and American art.
Marc Chagall, The Lovers, 1937; ©Marc Chagall / ADAGP, Paris; photo ©Israel Museum, Jerusalem / Avshalom Avital. pic.twitter.com/zdPKnCtu1w— Olga Tuleninova 🦋 (@olgatuleninova) May 28, 2020
The Archaeology Wing is dedicated to the preservation and display of Israel's archaeological heritage. The collection includes artifacts from prehistoric times to the Ottoman period, with exhibits showcasing different periods in the country's history.
The Judaica and Jewish Ethnography Wing features a vast collection of Jewish ceremonial objects, including Torah scrolls, menorahs, and mezuzahs. The collection also includes a large collection of Jewish folk art and ritual objects from Jewish communities around the world.
#ShanahTovah ! This illuminated page from the Rothschild Miscellany, a 15th c. French Hebrew mss. held by the Israel Museum (IM Ms. 180/51, f. 137v), is illustrated with a man blowing a shofar in front of a crowd. Digital image from Harvard's Judaica Collection JPCDCJA49724 pic.twitter.com/CJx1yR8tlB— Dr. Amanda H. Steinberg (@MENALibAHS) September 30, 2019
The archaeological wing of the Israel Museum is divided into four main sections: the Archaeology of the Land of Israel, the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East, the Archaeology of Egypt, and the Classical World. Each section contains a wealth of artifacts and exhibits that provide insight into the history and culture of these regions.
«"House of David" inscribed on a victory stele» (Iron Age II, 9th century BCE) by Unknown— artfram.es (@artfram_es) March 30, 2023
🏛️ The Israel Museum, Jerusalem#art pic.twitter.com/K4YEMdBkXs
The Archaeology of the Land of Israel section contains some of the most important artifacts from the biblical period, tying the modern Jewish nation to the ancient Israelite kingdoms. These include the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are among the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible. The scrolls were discovered in the 1940s and 1950s in the caves of Qumran, near the Dead Sea. They contain a variety of texts, including copies of the books of the Hebrew Bible, as well as other religious and non-religious writings.
One of the oldest artifacts that confirm a blessing that Jews still say each day during prayers dates back to the First Temple period. Two small silver scrolls were found in burial caves outside of the Old City of Jerusalem were inscribed with the ‘Priestly Blessing’ still said today.
The remarkable thing that ties us (modern Jewry) to the ancient Israelites is the Priestly Blessing.— Jay Engelmayer (@jengelmayer) April 10, 2023
A gold scroll found in a burial cave dating to the time of King David had the blessing inscribed on it - word for word as we say it today. pic.twitter.com/wu5qDWWhWI
Meanwhile, the Youth Wing is dedicated to art education for children and families, offering a wide range of programs and exhibitions designed to engage young visitors in the museum's collection. The wing has programs that enable the children to express their own creativity, as well as provide them a preliminary introduction to archaeology and the importance of preserving historical artifacts.
Another main feature of the Museum that is most likely the second most popular display is the model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. The model is a 50:1 scale replica of the city as it would have looked in the first century CE, around the time of the Second Temple. The model provides visitors with a detailed and realistic view of the city, including the Temple Mount, the walls, and other important landmarks.
Today 70 AD Second Temple in Jerusalem set on fire by Roman army under Titus during the capture of the city.— Roman History (@romanhistory1) August 10, 2022
Model of Herod's Temple (a renovation of the Second Temple) in the Israel Museum pic.twitter.com/bn5p0T7CH3
Probably, the most popular exhibition in the Israel Museum is the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. Designed by Armand Phillip Bartos and Frederick John Kiesler, these ancient manuscripts were discovered in the 1940s and 1950s in the caves of Qumran, and they are among the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible. The Shrine of the Book features a display of the scrolls, as well as a multimedia presentation that provides visitors with a deeper understanding of their historical and cultural significance.
The Israel Museum is not just a place for visitors to view art and artifacts – it is also a center for conservation and research. The museum's team of conservators work tirelessly to preserve and protect the museum's collection, using state-of-the-art techniques and technologies to ensure that the art and artifacts are preserved for future generations.
The magnificent bronze statue of Hadrian, a rare survival. It was found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem.— American Academy in Rome (@AmAcademyRome) September 17, 2022
It is conserved in the collection of the Israel Museum (Inv. no. 1975-753). 📸 by Carole Raddato. pic.twitter.com/vHzjhBbada
The museum also has an active research program, with scholars and researchers from around the world coming to the museum to study the collection and advance our understanding of Israel's cultural heritage.
The most mysterious manuscript of the Dead Sea, written by Noah himself, is exhibited in Israel. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem exhibits the apocryphal Genesis of Noah for the first time. The manuscript belongs to the documents known as the 'Dead Sea Scrolls'. pic.twitter.com/Iq0YFjhQpF— Eretz Israel (@EretzIsrael) March 17, 2022
The Israel Museum is an iconic institution that showcases the country's rich cultural heritage through its vast collection of art, archaeology, and Judaica. With its stunning architecture, world-class exhibitions, and commitment to conservation and research, the museum is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the history and culture of Israel.