Israel Museum

By John Reality, Cambodia, June 2011

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Widely renowned as being one the leading art and archaeological museums in the world today, the Israel Museum, Jerusalem was the brainchild of former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek and houses impressive collections of biblical archeology, Judaica, ethnography, fine art, artifacts from Africa, both North and South America, Oceania, and the Far East, as well as rare manuscripts, ancient glass and sculpture. One specially designed building on the museum grounds known as the “Shrine of the Book” houses the Dead Sea Scrolls and other famous artifacts discovered at Masada in the 1940s, many of which date back as far as between 150 B.C. and 70 A.D.

The museum's director, James Snyder, former Deputy Director of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was appointed in 1997, and has since overseen a 100 million dollar campaign to remodel and enlarge the grounds. The impressive results of these efforts have been accessible to the public since its grand reopening in the summer of 2010. The museum's holdings include more than 500,000 objects, and represents the largest collection of artifacts from Israel currently assembled anywhere in the world.

Visitors to the region motivated by cultural and historical curiosity (and are there any other kind?) should take care not to miss this institutional gem. Keep in mind that the Museum is closed Tuesday mornings. An array of guided tours specifically tailored to visitors' respective interests depart daily at regularly scheduled times, so it is advisable to consult the museum's calendar of events online while planning your visit. The price of admission is modest, with discounts for seniors, students, and the disabled. Children and teens (aged 5 to 17) enter free on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

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