Every country has some kind of national museum that showcases local culture and history. When you’re talking about a country with as rich and ancient history as Israel, you could figure that the national museum would be quite something.
Well, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem that was opened in 1965 was always quite something–a showcase for a huge variety of archeological, artistic and spiritual items reflecting the various civilizations that have been present in this piece of real estate since time immemorial.
But after more than 40 years it was time for a serious update, so donors from all over the world contributed some $100 million for a facelift that got underway in 2007. Today, I went to the press preview, where the proud director and curators led us around the refurbished museum.
While preserving the original lines of the unique 60s architecture, the galleries have been beautifully updated and made much more convenient for visitors to access.
This is the place to come to see Roman, Byzantine, Umayyad, Crusader, Ottoman and Israeli artifacts. Judaica from all over the world; restored synagogues and Israeli art. There’s a beautiful sculpture garden overlooking the Jerusalem hills and a slew of events planned for the opening week.
Oh, and by the way, the Israel Museum is home to the Shrine of the Book–the home of the Dead Sea Scrolls as well as a super-size model of the Second Temple.