December 31st 2014
With ten separate exhibition areas and off-site installations, there is no larger, more comprehensive art and history museum in Israel than the Israel Museum. Jerusalem’s Israel Museum is so vast, it could take several days to explore its campuses and see its entire collections.
The Israel Museum is perhaps best known for the Shrine of the Book, a complex that permanently houses many of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The distinctive, dome-shaped structure resembles the clay vessels in which these parchments were first discovered in 1947, by a Bedouin shepherd searching near the Dead Sea for a lost goat. An audio guide that introduces museum guests to the culture of ancient Israel at the time the Dead Sea Scrolls were written is available in English.
The museum’s Archaeology wing is devoted to the story of ancient Canaan and the various people and cultures that have populated this land since prehistoric times. The permanent exhibit in the Archaeology wing combines artifacts from major historical events with the everyday lives of individuals who lived here thousands of years ago.
The Fine Arts wing displays the widest range of art pieces from the Museum’s substantial holdings in Israeli and international art, photography, design, architecture, prints and drawings. A 7,200-square-foot gallery space within this wing displays rotating exhibitions of the Museum’s extensive collection of modern art.
The Jewish Art and Life wing provides a view of both the religious and secular aspects of everyday life in Jewish communities around the world. The artifacts on display in this wing date from the Middle Ages until today. Of particular interest is the Synagogue Route display, which presents replicas of four synagogues from different continents. While exploring the Jewish Art and Life wing, don’t miss the Jewish lifecycle ritual objects that are related to birth, marriage and death in Jewish culture. If you are intrigued by rare illuminated manuscripts, you’ll find them here, along with numerous examples of contemporary Jewish art.
Temporary exhibits are displayed in the centrally located, 10,000 square foot Wexner Gallery, while kid-friendly hands-on workshops and exhibits take place at the Youth Wing. The Israel Museum also includes a model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Era and the Art Garden, which showcases the Billy Rose sculpture collection, as well as works by Israeli and international artists. Off site, the Ticho House and the Rockefeller Archeology Museum also operate under the auspices of the Israel Museum.