13 must-see museums in Israel
Israel has more museums per capita than anywhere else in the world. With 230-plus museums (and counting), visitors and locals have the luxury of choosing which topic—art, science, history, design, architecture, technology—appeals to them most.
Every year since 1977, the International Council of Museums has celebrated the importance of these cultural institutions in the development of society with an International Museum Day on or around May 18.
Some 32,000 museums in 130 countries participate in the global event. Israeli museums marked this year’s International Museum Day on May 16, offering free entrance (in most cases) and free guided tours.
Here are 13 of Israel’s must-see museums:
1. The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
Ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem should be your first stopover. The museum houses 500,000 objects, including the famous Dead Sea Scrolls; a grand collection of archaeological finds; an immense treasury of world Judaica; an amazing sculpture garden; and vast collections of primitive, European and modern art.
The museum was founded in 1965, underwent a massive $100 million renovation in 2009-2010, and is considered the largest cultural institution in the country.
If the Israel Museum’s main location doesn’t satisfy your archaeological needs, head over to its Rockefeller Archeological Museum branch in East Jerusalem, which houses an extraordinary collection of antiquities unearthed in excavations conducted in the country mainly during the time of the British Mandate (1919-1948).
2. Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv
Give yourself at least half a day, if not a whole day, to visit this amazing historical and archeological museum.
The museum, opened in 1958, is divided into pavilions that house collections dedicated to folklore, photography, ceramics, excavations, postal history and philately, glassware, coins and anthropological artifacts. There’s also a planetarium onsite.
The Museum Shop is one of the best in the country for Israeli designer crafts, jewelry and Judaica.
3. Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv
Featuring works from Reuven Rubin to Yigal Tumarkin to Gal Weinstein and Michal Rovner, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art houses the best of Israeli art. Founded in 1932, it is one of Israel’s leading art and culture institutions.
In 2011, the museum doubled its gallery space with the opening of the inspiring, five-story Herta and Paul Amir Building—an art piece in its own right.
The museum also boasts works by more than a dozen world masters—including Vincent Van Gogh, Amadeo Modigliani and Pablo Picasso—as well as displays of design and architecture.
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