The Israel Museum is Israel’s national art museum and the largest in the country. It was founded in 1965 and is situated in Jerusalem’s Givat Ram neighborhood. The museum is spread across an expansive 50,000m² campus with a number of buildings and outdoor exhibition areas. In all there are approximately half a million works of art and artifacts in the museum. Among the highlights of the museum is a figurine considered to be the oldest artwork in the world. Other interesting items are the Yemeni traditional jewelry; archaeological findings from Masada; 17th century Persian mosaics and a nail thought to have been from Jesus’ cross.
The Fine Arts wing is on a par with world-class art museums in New York, London and Rome. The collection includes a wide range of genres, artists and sources. It includes both ancient works and the most up-to-date contemporary art. Sections of the art wing cover European art, modern art, contemporary art, Israeli art, African arts, Oceana, American arts, Asian arts, photography, design, architecture, prints and drawings. In addition there is a 2,200m² exhibition space for rotating exhibitions of the museums contemporary art collection. The highlights of the fine art collection include work by Reuven Rubin, Sisley, Rembrandt, Pissarro, Cezanne, van Dyck, Bosch, Chagall, Renoir, Van Gogh, Gauguin and many more.
Video by tour guide Zahi Shaked
In the Jewish Art and Life Wing you can see precious artifacts and art with Jewish content as well as reconstructed interiors of synagogues from across the globe. Some of the more fascinating synagogue interiors come from the Caribbean, India and Persia. The wing includes secular and orthodox material from Jewish communities across several historic periods. There are exhibitions devoted to the costumes and jewelry of the Jewish culture, the religious ceremonies and ancient manuscripts.
Video by tour guide Zahi Shaked
The Archaeology Wing presents archaeological findings from the Holy Land in chronological order from prehistory to the Ottoman Empire. The artifacts paint a picture of the cultural, religious and social history of the people of this country. This is the most extensive collection of its kind in the world. Separate galleries display archaeological findings from other countries and there is an area where the latest discoveries are on display.
A sophisticated Youth Wing holds hands-on art, opportunities for creating their own art and many exhibits to ignite children’s’ imaginations. The museum has a 2,000m², 1:50 scale model of Jerusalem during the Second Temple Period prior to the Temple’s destruction in 66AD. The model includes the city’s topography, houses and the Temple itself. The Art Garden features sculptures by artists including Picasso, Henry Moore and Israeli artist Menashe Kadishman.
On the grounds of the museum is the Shrine of the Book, a white urn-shaped building which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. The unique design of the building mimics the shape of the urn lids which held the scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls are the oldest Biblical manuscripts in the world.
The museum is constantly hosting special events, many geared towards families and young art enthusiasts. The state-of-the-art museum embraces exciting projects and each season and holiday is marked with special exhibitions and activities.