Israel Museum Renovation
Israel Museum Breaks Ground on Comprehensive Campus Project to Transform Facilities, Increase Gallery Space and Enhance Overall Visitor Experience
In June 24, 2007, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem launched a comprehensive $80-million project to renew, transform and unify the facilities on its landmark campus, with the goal of increasing accessibility to the Museum's collections and enhancing the overall visitor experience. The Museum will continue operations throughout the construction period with a full schedule of exhibitions, public events and educational programs to be held in its Weisbord Exhibition Pavilion, Shrine of the Book and Model of Second Temple Period Jerusalem Complex, Billy Rose Art Garden and Ruth Youth Wing.
"The founding of the Israel Museum was one of the most important events following the founding of the State of Israel," remarked Israel's President-Elect Shimon Peres at the Museum's International Council, which convened earlier this month. "Its renewal is central to the destiny of Israel. If politics is part of everyday life, the Israel Museum is part of life's inspiration."
The design of the campus project is a joint initiative of James Carpenter Design Associates, New York, and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects, Tel Aviv, with additional support by A.Lerman Architects Ltd., Tel Aviv. The project is the most comprehensive initiative undertaken since the Museum opened in 1965, and was inspired first and foremost by the desire to enhance visitor services and facilities on a campus which has grown ten-fold over the past four decades.
The multi-year program will create new entrance facilities, an enclosed route of passage from the front of the campus to a relocated main entrance hall with access to all of the Museum’s curatorial collection wings, reorganized and expanded collection galleries, and newly centralized temporary exhibition space. Overall 80,000 square feet of new construction will be added and 200,000 square feet of gallery space will be re-ordered, renewed and expanded, largely within the Museum's existing 500,000-square-foot architectural envelope. The Museum is also concurrently working with Pentagram Partners, London, to renew the Bronfman Archaeology Wing, planned to provide a narrative timeline of the archaeological history of the ancient Land of Israel.
The Museum anticipates celebrating the staged completion of the project and complete reinstallation of its collection galleries in time for its 45th anniversary in May, 2010.
"We are entering an exciting period during which the Museum will continue to operate in fresh and innovative ways for our public even as our campus undergoes a process of transformational renewal, which will define the course for its future vitality," said James S. Snyder, the Museum's Anne and Jerome Fisher director. "We are grateful to the many friends from around the world whose commitment and support are making this program possible, and to our local constituency whose dedication to the Museum and impressive engagement with our campus and ongoing program of exhibitions and activities are the impetus for this major undertaking."
The Museum's overall program for renewal of its campus comprises $80 million in budgetary scope, of which over $60 million comes from private support. Of this total, $50 million was contributed by 16 families and family foundations internationally and in Israel, whose support will be acknowledged collectively for the renewal of the Museum's campus. This is an important and unparalleled precedent for collective philanthropy in Israel.
The international donors to this fund include: Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York; the Estate of Dorothea Gould, Zurich; Herta and Paul Amir, Los Angeles; the Nash Family Foundation, New York; the Marc Rich Foundation, Lucerne; the Bella and Harry Wexner Philanthropies of The Legacy Heritage Fund, New York and Jerusalem; and Linda and Harry Macklowe, New York. Donors in Israel, whose contributions matched challenge grants from the Schusterman Foundation – Israel and Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Foundation in Israel, include: the Federmann Family, Tel Aviv; Debbie and Erel Margalit, Jerusalem; Dina, Michael, and Oudi Recanati, Tel Aviv; Rivka Saker and Uzi Zucker, New York and Tel Aviv; and Judith and Israel Yovel, Herzliya.
The renewal of the Bronfman Archaeology Wing, built originally through the generosity of the children of Samuel Bronfman on the occasions of his 80th birthday, is being supported by Charles Bronfman and his family, in memory of Saidye and Samuel Bronfman, with additional support from the Wolfson Charitable Trust, London.
Remaining funding to complete the project's overall budgetary scope includes matching support from the Government of the State of Israel.
Exhibition and Program Highlights
The Museum is committed to sustaining an active schedule of exhibitions and public programs throughout the duration of the campus renewal project, both on site and at its offsite locations at the Rockefeller Museum and the Ticho House in Jerusalem.
The Shrine of the Book and Model of Second Temple Period Jerusalem Complex presents an extremely rare 7th-8th century CE Hebrew biblical manuscript on display for the first time anywhere. A fragment of the Book of Exodus, the "Song of the Sea" manuscript comes from the "silent era," a period from which very few Hebrew biblical manuscripts survive and which therefore serves as a historical bridge between the latest Dead Sea Scroll from the 2nd century and the 10th century Aleppo Codex, both of which are housed in the Shrine of the Book.
Also new to the Shrine complex is the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center, offering technologically-based information services for general public and scholars alike. The Center includes a general-audience film that illuminates the rich historical period of the Second Temple just before its destruction, as well as the existence of the Qumran community in the Judean Desert where the Dead Sea Scrolls were inscribed.
The Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem, which operates under the aegis of the Israel Museum, presents a new exhibition, Beliefs and Believers: Ancient Art from the Israel Museum. The exhibition showcases, in the Rockefeller Museum's own unique setting, thirty-four singular treasures from the Israel Museum's Archaeology Wing, focusing on objects of ritual and religion.
The Museum's ongoing program of public activities regularly includes a wide range of concerts, films, symposia, gallery talks, special events, and school programs.
The Museum also continues its traveling exhibition programs, through which it shares its collections and curatorial initiatives with audiences worldwide. Currently on tour in the United States, the exhibition Cradle of Christianity: Jewish and Christian Treasures from the Holy Land is on view at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta through October 14, 2007.
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