The renovations, which began in June 2007, cost a total of $100 million and include 78,000 square meters of new public facilities and 19,000 square meters of renewed gallery space, representing what the museum is considering to be "the largest collective philanthropic effort ever undertaken for a single cultural institution in the State of Israel." The construction includes new event halls, a new dining area, a three-building new entrance plaza, an indoor passage, lined with walls of water, to connect the new Gallery Entrance Pavilion to the campus entrance, and revamped temporary exhibition galleries.
The architects in charge of the project, James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA) of New York and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects of Tel Aviv, both brought with them impressive lists of credentials and past accomplishments. JCDA, which oversaw the plans for the new spaces on Israel Museum's campus, counts the Brooklyn Bridge Park and 7 World Trade Center amongst its past projects, while Efrat-Kowalsky, which conceived of the re-purposing and upgrading of existing structures on campus, specializes in museum design and refurbishing.
Since the museum first opened in 1965, the revered institution has amassed nearly 500,000 objects in its collections, and eventually, the time came to bring the campus up to date, with better flow for people to enjoy its sprawling spaces, and larger facilities to accommodate more display opportunities. It's "a renewal project that allows us to serve our public as never before," Israel Museum Director James Snyder said in a statement. "We look forward to welcoming our visitors to the Museum’s stunning new public spaces and galleries, which facilitate a richer and more enjoyable experience of our unparalleled collections and of our powerful Jerusalem hilltop setting.”
The museum will reveal the renovations beginning on July 26 with a series of inaugural events. These include concerts in the Billy Rose Art Garden by noted Israeli musicians including Shalom Hanoch, who will perform on July 27, and Yehudit Ravitz, who will be closing out the inaugural week on July 29. Yehuda Poliker is scheduled to appear later this summer.
The Israel Museum's Marketing Director Shai Yamin, who played an integral role in the planning and execution of the renovations, tells GoJerusalem.com, "We are expecting big crowds this summer. In addition to the people who come every summer, we expect to have others who come for the special events. We are planning children's events, including a special archeology event for children; evening events for the week of the opening; all of the galleries will be hosting special arts events with artists from every discipline - Jackie Levy, Etti Ankri. All of these events will be included in the price of the entrance, so we're really opening the museum to people who won't necessarily come to the museum. We always have big crowds in the summer, and we hope to have even more visitors this year than in years past."
With new exhibits (including an outdoor sculpture, pictured, by famed artist Anish Kapoor), renewed galleries, and arts events the Museum certainly is thinking big. As Yamin puts it, "We are certain people will make a special trip to Jerusalem from all over country to see the museum and come to our festivals. With our grand reopening we are certain that the museum will serve a drawing point attracting people from all across Israel to Jerusalem."
Bypass this summer's extra-long ticket lines at the Israel Museum with tickets purchased through GoJerusalem.com's online booking. Simply present your printed confirmation voucher at the security checkpoint, and skip the box office nuisances.
Photos of Turning the World Upside Down, a site-specific sculpture by Anish Kapoor, the Israel Museum's new entrance plaza, the museum's Upper Entrance Hall and the entrance to the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archeology Wing all courtesy of Tim Hursley for The Israel Museum.