Next time you're in Jerusalem ...
June 9, 2023
After more than a decade in planning and three years of construction with a multi-disciplinary team of archaeologists, architects, curators, researchers, designers and creatives, the new Tower of David Jerusalem Museum opened to the public in the ancient citadel as the capital's official museum on June 1st with a completely immersive experience that combines ancient Jerusalem and interactive technology. And, for the first time in its history, the ancient citadel is now accessible.
The Tower of David ancient citadel, Jerusalem's iconic symbol, located between the old and new city, is uniquely placed to tell the story of Jerusalem, a city that has no equal in the world. With its new visitor flow - from the Jaffa Gate sunken entrance pavilion through the galleries, the Phasael Tower observation point and exiting into the Old City - the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum becomes the gateway to the exploration of Jerusalem.
The 4000-year story of Jerusalem and the significance of the city to the three largest monotheistic religions is told skillfully through different interactive ways making the visitor participatory in their exploration of the city's past. The 10 completely new thematic galleries are found hidden in the old guard rooms of the structure surrounding the open-aired courtyard filled with archaeological findings dating back 2800 years. Some galleries are in a structure built by the Ottomans in the 17th century but others that go back to the time of the Crusaders in the 12th century, and others to King Herod, some 2000 years ago. Authentic artifacts, many displayed in-situ for the first time dating back to approximately 1500 years BCE, have each been carefully chosen to represent a different aspect of Jerusalem's long and colorful past among them. minute ancient coins from 6th century BC which show the origins of the 1 shekel piece used today, stone cups from the 1st century, a Roman sword from the 2nd century, golden coins from Byzantine Jerusalem and many more. Models of the Second Temple, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock center the rooms that trace Jerusalem's sanctity to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These original artifacts and models lie side by side with innovative and engaging multi-media displays. The result is a sensory experience that encourages active engagement and allows visitors to explore Jerusalem's history in various dynamic, stimulating and enjoyable ways.
The 12-meter interactive multi-media wall, Sands of Time, that runs the length of the introductory gallery allows visitors to discover for themselves Jerusalem's 4000-year history with just a quick touch. The media concept for this interactive installation was designed by Local Projects, the experience design team behind the 9/11 Memorial and Museum among others in the US. Other highlights include the animation of maps from the Middle Ages, the 3D scanning of a bird's eye view of 19th century model of Jerusalem, interactive projection onto a mosaic map, a copy of the famous Madaba Map and an interactive sphere of the world which with one touch measures the distance between different cities in the world and Jerusalem.
Films created for the museum include an animated history of 4,000 years of Jerusalem history in just three minutes by Golden Globe winner artist Ari Folman; several animated short films related to different periods based on archaeological and historical evidence and research, a multi-media visualization of the Arch of Titus worked on together with Yeshiva University NY, a 360-degree touch film of inside the Al Aqsa Mosque; an original film of Jerusalem from 1896, including footage by the Lumiere brothers, has been edited to bring to life Jerusalem at the turn of the 20th century. The "Circle of the Year" is an immersive experience in which a montage of images from different religious festivals are projected onto one of the vaulted ceilings in a guardroom. The soundtrack is original created with choirs from the different religious communities living in Jerusalem. Created by David Polonsky, one of the most important illustrators working in Israel today, the seven-minute experience allows the three calendars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam to converge in an only-in-Jerusalem manner.
Director and Chief Curator, Tower of David Jerusalem Museum Eilat Lieber stated, "No other museum can tell Jerusalem's story in such a distinctive setting, within this citadel, that has witnessed so many eventful periods in the city's past. The iconic architecture, massive Jerusalem stone walls and beautifully arched ceiling guard rooms create a unique setting for this museum which will become the gateway to this unique city. Alongside the physical conservation of the walls and towers of this ancient site, we have developed a completely new permanent exhibition and creative programming that tells Jerusalem's long, complex and colorful history in respectful, innovative and engaging ways. Whether it is a school child from Israel – or a visitor from overseas, I hope that the Tower of David can give them a basis for dialogue, tolerance and respect. Visitors from near and far will leave the museum with a better understanding of Jerusalem, this eternal city."
The $50 million renewal and conservation of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum was led by Dame Vivien Duffield through the Clore Israel Foundation together with the support of the Municipality of Jerusalem, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Jewish Tradition, the Ministry of Heritage, the Ministry of Tourism, the Patrick and Lina Drahi Foundation, Keren Hayesod, The Jerusalem Foundation, the American Friends of Museums in Israel and the P Austin Foundation.
For more information: Caroline Shapiro, director of External Affairs. Tower of David Jerusalem Museum. Caroline.firstname.lastname@example.org, +972 544909277, http://www.tod.org.il/en.