Israel Museum

The Israel Museum Jerusalem is one of the foremost art and archaeological museums in the world; it was established as the national museum in 1965. On the properties of the museum is the Shrine of the Book, which houses the illustrious Dead Sea Scrolls as well as artifacts from the historic site of Masada. Hundreds of thousands of visitors congregate within the walls of the Israel Museum each year, which also includes a special wing for the children.

The Shrine of the Book was built to house the Dead Sea Scrolls, which were purchased as a gift for the state of Israel by David Samuel Gottesman, a philanthropist refugee from Hungary. The funds for the shrine were donated by his family, and a great deal of planning took place before the construction of the silently expressive building, designed by Austrian architect, Fredrick Kiesler. Surrounded by a reflective pool of water, the white dome is set against a black wall of basalt; this architecture is based on the description of war between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness as well as the jars in which the scrolls were found.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are one of the greatest manuscript finds in history; they contain both non-biblical and biblical texts, including some of the only surviving copies of those dated earlier than 100 BC, including the last words of Joseph and Amram, Moses’ father. Within the texts are formerly unknown stories of scriptural figures as Noah and Abraham, and the reason why God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. The Copper Scroll holds some of the most intriguing information, describing more than 60 underground hiding places for various treasures said to be from the Temple of Jerusalem. The scrolls found in caves 1 and 11 are the most intact of the manuscripts.

Old Jerusalem was previously destroyed in the revolt against the Romans, taking the Temple along with it. A scale model of the city as it was before the war was constructed and is now an attraction at the Israel Museum neighboring the Shrine of the Book. A visit to the museum is an excellent addition to any list of things to do during an Israel vacation, particularly among travelers who are interested in the country's history.

Other attractions include Jewish ceremonial art from different eras, a youth wing with scheduled activities and specific exhibits for the youngsters, and a sculpture garden, featuring the artwork of Billy Rose and other modern artists. The garden landscape was designed by Japanese architect Isamo Noguchi. Several sculptures dot the terrain, including the famous LOVE sculpture in Hebrew by Billy Rose.

Visitors to Jerusalem may consider including the Israel Museum on their list of things to do; in addition to an enjoyable vacation, travelers can grab a bit of culture and history along the way. If you have kids, this is a great place to bring them for a lesson in history. See the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jerusalem as it was in ancient times. However you choose to tour this fascinating museum, from the Shrine of the Books to the Billy Rose Sculpture Garden, you will leave with lasting memories of the antiquities within its walls.

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