Situated on a hill in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, the Israel Museum is home to biblical artifacts, such as a nail attesting to crucifixion during Jesus’ time, as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls housed within the Shrine of the Book.
Founded in 1965 as Israel’s national museum, the Israel Museum truly boasts some of the most significant discoveries within the surrounding region. Time to brush up on your history and step into the colorful past of the Holy Land!
History of the Museum
Jerusalem’s former mayor, Teddy Kollek, was the driving force behind the establishment of the Israel Museum. He wanted to bring the past to life, with works dating back to biblical times.
Since its establishment in 1965, the museum has built an impressive collection of nearly 500,000 objects that visitors may view. A $100 million campaign to renovate the museum was completed in 2010 to accommodate the multitudes of visitors that come year-round.
Today, the museum covers nearly 50,000 square meters and attracts over 800,000 attendees annually, including 100,000 children who visit and attend classes within its Youth Wing.
The Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing tells the exciting story of the ancient Land of Israel with its unique collection of biblical antiquities. Organized in chronological order from pre-history through the Ottoman Empire, the wing presents seven “chapters” of historical narrative intertwining monumental historical events of the time. Pilate’s Stone, the House of David Inscription, the Heliodorus Stele, and the Mosaic of Rehob are some of the wing’s most famous highlights to date!
Shrine of the Book
Housing the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Shrine of the Book is a uniquely dome-shaped building designed to resemble the vessel in which the scrolls were discovered. The concept of the structure was built based on the imagery found on the Scroll of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, with white contrasting black. Being that the scrolls are the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world, and with concern for prolonged exposure to light and the environment’s elements, even though showcased in an air-tight glass case, the scrolls’ fragility makes it impossible to display continually.
After a scroll has been exhibited between three and six months, it is removed from its showcase and placed in a special storeroom to “rest” from exposure.
The Billy Rose Art Garden is noted as amongst one of the finest outdoor sculpture settings in the world today. The ancient Jerusalem hillside provides a gorgeous backdrop for the museum’s display of the evolution of modern western artistic traditions. Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin, and Pablo Picasso are some of the most noted artists whose work is displayed within the Garden.
Presenting an array of programming to over 100,000 children each year, the Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education features exhibitions, art studios, classrooms, and a library. Established in 1966, the wing offers special programs to foster intercultural understanding between Arab and Jewish students throughout Israeli communities.
With the museum boasting countless artifacts and activities for all ages, it’s no surprise the museum welcomes nearly 1 million visitors annually. Whether you’re an art fanatic or history lover, the Israel Museum complex has something special for anyone with an explorer’s zeal to discover centuries-old artifacts. Make it a point to drop by while visiting Jerusalem on your next trip to the Holy Land.