Israel Museum

Israel Museum information

Location
Jerusalem , Israel
Address
11 Ruppin Blvd
Museum Row
Telephone
+972 2 2 670 8811
Getting there
Bus: 7, 9, 14, 35, 66
More information
www.imj.org.il
Prices
adult/student/child 5-17yr 50/37/25NIS
Opening hours
10am-5pm Sun, Mon, Wed, Thu & Sat, 4-9pm Tue Sep-Jul, 10am-9pm Tue Aug, 10am-2pm Fri
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One of Israel's most impressive cultural assets, this splendid museum gives an excellent grounding in the region's 5000 years of history in its huge archaeological wing and has another equally impressive wing concentrating on Jewish art and life. But that's not all – the fine arts wing has a significant collection of international and Israeli art, the museum's grounds feature an art garden, and there's a dedicated pavilion showcasing the museum's prize exhibit, the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Before starting your tour (dedicate at least half a day), be sure to pick up a complimentary audioguide from the visitor centre. If you decide to spend a full day – and many visitors do – the excellent Modern restaurant serves lunch. There are also two cafes on site.

Shrine of the Book

The distinctive lid-shaped roof of this pavilion was designed to symbolise the pots in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were kept. The first of the scrolls, totalling 800 in all, were found in 1947 and date back to the time of the Bar Kochba Revolt (132–35 CE). Dealing with both secular and religious issues, they were thought to have been written by an ascetic group of Jews called the Essenes, who inhabited the area for about 300 years. The most important is the Great Isaiah Scroll, the largest and best preserved – it is reproduced in facsimile at the museum. The exhibit tells the story of the scrolls and the Essenes and displays some of the original documents.

Archaeology Wing

There are so many significant pieces in this wing that is hard to single out any in particular. Forming the most extensive collection of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world, the exhibits are organised chronologically from prehistory to the Ottoman Empire. A group of 13th-century BCE human-shaped pottery coffins greets visitors in the first room, and other impressive displays include a 3rd-century mosaic floor from Nablus depicting events in the life of Achilles. Also notable is the ‘House of David’ Victory Stele, a fragmentary inscription from the First Temple period discovered at Tel Dan. This is the only contemporary, extra-biblical reference to the Davidic dynasty to have come to light thus far.

Jewish Art & Life Wing

The prize exhibits here are four complete synagogues brought from various locations and reconstructed. One, the 18th-century Vittorio Veneto Synagogue, is adorned with gilt and plaster and was transported from Vittorio Veneto in Italy in 1965. The others are from Cochin in India, Paramaribo in Suriname and Horb am Main in Germany. Also worth seeking out is the painted Deller family sukkah (temporary wooden dwelling erected during the harvest festival of Sukkot), which dates from the 19th century and was smuggled out of Germany to Jerusalem in 1935. The rooms at the rear of the wing focus on Jewish costume and jewellery.

Fine Arts Wing

The highlight here is the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Gallery, which showcases work by Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, Sisley, Monet and Cézanne among many others. The Modern Art Gallery has works by Schiele, Rothko, Motherwell, Pollock, Modigliani and Bacon, and Israeli art is well represented in the Israeli Art pavilion, with striking paintings by Reuven Rubin and Yosef Zaritsky.

Art Garden

A paved promenade leads from the Shrine of the Book to this sprawling sculpture garden, which was designed by Japanese artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi and includes works by 19th-, 20th- and 21st–century artists including Moore, Kapoor, LeWitt, Oldenburg, Serra, Rodin and Picasso.