In 1964 the Bezalel National Art Museum was incorporated into the new Israel Museum. The Israel Museum, situated in the heart of modern Jerusalem, houses a collection of Jewish and world art, the archaeology of the Holy Land, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The museum was founded to collect, preserve, study, and display the cultural and artistic treasures of the Jewish people throughout its long history as well as the art, ethnology, and archeology of the Land of Israel and its neighboring countries. It also aims at encouraging original Israeli art. The initial il20,000,000 (about $5,730,000) complex of buildings was designed by the Israeli architects Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad and financed by gifts from Israel, the United States, and Europe. The first il1,500,000 (about $428,570) came from the U.S. government through its Information Media Guaranty Program, and the Israeli government provided the 22-acre plot. In 1996 the exhibition area totaled 17,190 sq. m. (about 20,560 sq. yd.) with an additional 19,110 sq. m. (about 22,850 sq. yd.) for storage, laboratories, workshops, a library, and offices, including those of the Israeli Government Department of Antiquities. The museum has a vast ethnographical collection which contains material representing the art and ethnology of non-Western cultures in addition to Jewish civilization.
The following are the Museum's sections:
the judaica and ethnography section
The Museum has the world's largest collection of Judaica, including two whole 18th-century synagogue interiors. It ethnography collection includes costumes, jewelry, and articles typical of Jewish ritual and daily life in Diaspora communities.
the arts wing
Included in the Arts Wing is the Bezalel Museum of Fine Arts founded in 1906 by Boris *Schatz. It is made up of nine different art departments: European art, drawings and reprints, Israeli art, modern art, contemporary art, design and architecture, photography, Far East art, and the art of Africa, Oceania, and America. The collection also includes period rooms – French, English, and Venetian.
the samuel bronfman biblical and archaeological museum
Representing periods from prehistoric times to the 15th century c.e., this collection – based on that of the Israel Department of Antiquities (started in 1948) – contains archeological artifacts ranging from an elephant tusk from about 200,000 b.c.e., Chalcolithic clay ossuaries from Azor, highly developed Canaanite pottery, and Hebrew inscriptions and other objects from the Israelite period to representative finds from the Persian, Hellenistic, and Second Temple periods as well as the Roman, Byzantine, and Arabic civilizations. There is a selection of synagogue and church mosaics and a numismatic collection.
the billy rose art garden and the lipchitz pavilion
The Billy Rose Art Garden, designed by Isamu Noguchi, displays 19th- and 20th-century sculpture. Curved retaining walls, made of the rocks from the site, frame the exhibition space for the sculptures displayed in the open air.
The Jacques Lipchitz Pavilion has 140 bronze sketches donated to the Museum by Reuven Lipchitz, the sculptor's brother.
the shrine of the book
The Shrine of the Book, designed by the U.S. architects Frederick J. Kiesler and Armand P. Bartos, is the repository for Israel's Dead Sea Scrolls, the Bar Kokhba letters (for details see *Dead Sea Scrolls and *Bar Kokhba), and objects found in the Dead Sea Caves.
Within the Israel Museum itself is the Ruth Youth Wing, an active educational department. The wing's area consists of 3,500 sq. m., which is 10% of the entire museum area. It hosts around 300,000 visitors a year.
the ticho house
Formerly the home of Dr. Abraham and Anna *Ticho, located in the center of Jerusalem, the building is now put to multipurpose use exhibiting the works of Anna Ticho and serving as a location for cultural events and a restaurant.
the paley art center
The Paley Art Center for Youth, located near the Rockefeller Museum, conducts programs for Jerusalem's Arab population and offers various activities in the Arab language.
rockefeller archaeological museum
The Rockefeller Archaeological Museum is situated in East Jerusalem, and houses a collection of antiquities revealed by excavations held mainly between the years 1919 and 1948.
[Avraham Biran /
Shaked Gilboa (2nd ed.)