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Israel Museum, Jerusalem

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Opened in May 1965, the Israel Museum is a world-class museum and an outstanding example of modern Israeli architecture.

The most popular part of the Israel Museum is the Shrine of the Book, with its distinctive onion-shaped top. The roof was designed by American architects Kiesler and Bartos to resemble the jar covers in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1947. Inside, a long, subtly lit passageway, designed to evoke the environment in which the scrolls were found, has a permanent exhibition on life in Qumran when the scrolls were written.

The main attraction of the Shrine of the Book is, of course, the Dead Sea Scrolls themselves. Directly beneath the dome is an imposing showcase (shaped like a wooden Torah rod) containing a replic of the Great Isaiah Scroll (written c. 100 BC), comprised of 66 chapters on a 7 m (23 ft) long, sewn-together piece of parchment. This find was extremely important, as it is 1,000 years older than the oldest biblical manuscript available before.

Also on display from the Dead Sea find are the Psalms Scroll, the War Scroll, the Temple Scroll, the Manual of Discipline, and the 10th-century Aleppo Codex, which is not one of the Dead Sea Scrolls but the oldest complete Bible in Hebrew.

The lower level of the Shrine of the Book displays letters written by Simon Bar-Kokhba during the Second Jewish revolt and finds from Masada.

The Judaica Wing consists of religious objects from Jewish communities throughout the world, including manuscripts from Iran, Italy, and Poland. In one room, there are dozens of Hanukkah lamps (Hannukkiot), silver Torah ornaments, serving trays, and shofars. Other rooms contain a vast exhibit of costumes worn by Jews in the lands of the Diaspora and ritual articles connected with life events such as birth, circumcision and marriage.

Visitors can also explore a reconstructed 17th-century Italian synagogue as well as a German one from the 18th century. The recently transferred interior of a synagogue from Cochin, India, is one of the museum's newest treasures. The museum shows the work of Israeli contemporaries and also contains period rooms.

The Archeology Wing, the largest section of the museum, contains the world's largest collection of objects found in Israel.

The Bronfman-Bezalel complex, in the main building and adjoining wings, houses a bookstore and gift shop in its lower level, as well as a snack bar and auditorium. Outside, to the right of the stairs, is the museum cafeteria.

Three new pavilions have been added in recent years. One contains a beautifully chosen collection of pre-Colombian Central American art from 2000 BC to 1550 AD; another is a separate building housing ancient glass; and the third is the Walter and Charlotte Floersheimer Pavilion for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Art with works by Corot, Monet, Renoir, Degas, Gauguin, Matisse, and others. The new Weisbord Pavilion, just across the walk from the museum's entrance building and gift shop, houses a small collection of Rodin as well as visiting exhibits of modern art.

Another remarkable part of the museum is an archaeological garden between the Shrine of the Book and the Youth Wing complex. It contains classical Greco-Roman sculptures, sarcophagi, and mosaics, most of which were discovered and excavated in Israel.

The Billy Rose Art Garden, on a 20-acre plot, has been impressively landscaped by the renowned Japanese American artist, Isamu Noguchi. In the garden of semicircular earth-and-stone embankments is a 100-piece sculpture collection, which contains both classical and modern European, American, and Israeli works-Rodin, Zorach, Henry Moore, Picasso, Maillol, and Channa Orloff.

On Saturday or holidays, you have to buy your tickets just outside the museum, from a local ticket agent. The museum is located south of the Knesset.

Quick Facts on Israel Museum

Site Information
Names:Israel Museum; Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Country:Israel & Palestine
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:31.772087° N, 35.204058° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

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Article Info

Title:Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:05/02/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-israel-museum">Israel Museum, Jerusalem</a>