Rockefeller Museum Jerusalem

| July 16, 2012 | 0 Comments
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Ruben Coralyn  CC BY 2.0Rockefeller Museum

Ruben Coralyn  CC BY 2.0
Rockefeller Museum

Don’t Miss this Museum in Jerusalem

Many of the leading museums in Jerusalem and around the world boast the latest interactive, high-tech exhibits, all vying to remain competitive for visitors’ attention.

That’s not what you’ll find at Rockefeller Museum Jerusalem, also known as the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum. Located just opposite the northeastern corner of the walls of the Old City, this Jerusalem museum is the place to step back in history and experience a classical museum with items orderly displayed in plain glass cases.  It’s a refreshing break from technology.

The Rockefeller Museum building, designed and built by prominent British architects during the early part of the British Mandate in Palestine, opened in 1938. Since there’s no parking, most people find their way there on foot through the commercial center of Arab eastern Jerusalem, or by way of a shuttle bus that makes the 20-minute run from the Israel Museum on the western side of town.

Hanay  CC BY-SA 3.0Round Conference Room at Rockefeller (inscribed with dialogue by Plato)

Hanay  CC BY-SA 3.0
Round Conference Room at Rockefeller (inscribed with dialogue by Plato)

Many Rockefeller Museum artifacts are displayed in the halls of the museum’s early 20th century building, while two vast galleries hold hundreds of fascinating smaller items. You won’t find electric lights in the halls either: the building was designed with large high windows that let in enough natural light to illuminate the Byzantine glass and the Canaanite pottery.

Amongst the chronologically arranged items are a 9,000 year-old statue from Jericho; several carved wood panels from the Al Aksa mosque on the Temple Mount, completed in 714; Crusader era lintel from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and a beautiful 5th-6th century mosaic from the Husifah Synagogue (now the Druze village of Isfiya) with the inscription: Shalom al Yisrael.

Centerpiece at the Rockefeller Museum

The centerpiece of the Rockefeller Museum is the serene inner courtyard with its pool and fountain, providing a place to contemplate the fact that this very site was the spot where the walls of Jerusalem were breached during the Crusades of 1099.

Talmoryair  CC BY 3.0Domed ceiling above fountain (Rockefeller Museum)

Talmoryair  CC BY 3.0
Domed ceiling above fountain (Rockefeller Museum)

Look up at the pockmarks on the landmark tower; these are relics of the 1948 War of Independence and the 1967 Six Day War when this area featured heavily in the battle for control of Jerusalem.

Today, the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem also houses the offices of Israel’s Antiquities Authority. Generally open from 10:00 am to midafternoon, not open Tuesdays or Fridays, the museum is located near Herod’s Gate at 27 Sultan Suleiman Street.

Rockefeller Museum Jerusalem: Did You Know?

The Rockefeller Museum was the first building constructed as a national museum in pre-state Palestine.  It was known as the Rockefeller Museum-Palestine Archaeological Museum.  Today, the story of the museum is available in an illustrated booklet.

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Category: Jerusalem, Museums

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