Israel has a million different faces. It contains riches in both history and modernity that make it such a fascinating and feast-for-your-senses type of destination. It is no wonder that such a place would have the highest number of museums per capita in the world!
Its museums, like its people, are both creative and diverse. Here is a sample of some the valuable museums to visit on your next Israel trip:
The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in Israel. It is home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, a model of The Second Temple, and has an impressive archeology wing, as well as intriguing European, Israeli and modern Art. The location of the Museum itself is on a hill with a great view. If you’re planning for more touring that day, check out the nearby Israeli Supreme Court and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
The Eretz Israel Museum is a historical and archeological museum with 8 permanent exhibits on display on topics such as: glass, ceramics, coins, copper, art, and more. Make sure to enjoy the planetarium and see either the Astronaut or Stars shows, or just do both. Take a stroll and enjoy the outdoor beauties such as the reconstructed Artisan Market and Olive oil plant. The museum is also a center for conferences and special events that are held in one of their state-of-the-art auditoriums.
Yad Vashem is the official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and the second most toured location in Israel after the Western Wall. The structure was designed by Canadian-Israeli architect, Moshe Safdie. It is beautiful in concept and design incorporating a glass, prism shaped corridor that has ten underground galleries branching off of it. Each gallery takes you through a different part of the story, with the end the path culminating at the “Hall of Names”. This circular room is walled with the storage of testimonials and photos of millions of Jews. Experience seeing a sample of those photos and testimonials as you walk through the room and look up into the cone shaped structures hanging from the ceiling that are lined with them.
With Masada being one of the most famous sites in the world, it is only appropriate that it would have it’s own museum. The experience and story of the rebels is brought to a deeper meaning as visitors are guided through nine different areas. Artifacts and life-size figures are used to represent their daily lives and make the dramatic story that much more penetrative. To get the entire Masada experience it is a must see.
Tel Avivians have a love-hate relationship with the modern addition to their long standing museum. A new addition was built to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2011 designed by architect Preston Scott Cohen. Together the museum holds a large collection of modern and contemporary art including artists such as Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall. The Museum also holds an impressive collection of Israeli art and temporary exhibitions in a wide variety of fields, such as painting, sculpture, prints, drawings, video, architecture and design. Come, check it out and join the love-hate debate.
A design building should be a beautiful design in and of itself, correct? Well, The Design Museum in Holon is such an interesting and unique structure that they even created a gallery inside to show you the process of creation. Designed by Ron Arad, visitors can peruse through the rose-metallic ribbon-like building and see installations in historical design, contemporary design, commissioned works, academic projects, and visiting exhibitions.
Get to know the south of Israel through the current photography exhibition at the museum. The building itself was built in 1906 and was originally the home of a Turkish governor during the Ottoman reign in Israel. It houses temporary exhibitions throughout the year and is also a popular venue for outdoor events and concerts.
Take a lesson in art and style as you visit The Museum for Islamic Art. The museum has an impressive collection of jewelry, watches, manuscripts, rugs, chessboards and pieces, dominoes and ancient playing cards. Such detail and intricacy are a delight to your aesthetic appeal and offer a sublime experience. Other collections like the archeology, visiting exhibits and the magnificent weapons room will sure to leave an everlasting impression.
For all the different cultures in Israel, there are even more streams of thought. Israel is a hot country politically, economically, socially, and perfect grounds for the contemporary art form. The Museum of the Seam tries to tackle the obstacles it sees in the regional conflicts with works of art. The building itself is also part of the artistic experience. It was built in 1932, served as an army outpost, and bears the damages of battle.
Nisan Cohen, founded and created this gem of a museum. Over 40 years of collecting and the Nisco Museum of Mechanical Music is the greatest collection of music boxes, hurdy gurdies, gramophones, manivelles, hand operated pianos and many other auditory treats, in the Middle East. Nisan also has an archive of old Yiddish gramophone records which were recorded pre-World War II. Nisan is a most cordial and charismatic host that will be happy to play and demonstrate the instruments for you. If you’re lucky you may get to be around for a concert series of selections from Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Mendellsoh, Gershwin, Chopin and others on the automatic 120 year old organ or on a 100 year piano roll.
The Madatech is Israel’s National Museum of Science, Technology and Space. Come and foster a love for science, in any of the over 20 exhibits, 600 hands-on exhibits and 7 Cinematrix multi-sense 3-D movies. You will have fun at Madatech with its very hands-on and innovative approach. The building, quite appropriately, is housed in the old Technion – Israel Institue of Technolody’s building.
The Bloomfield Science Museum is a hands-on educational center that has a special emphasis on real-world and current technologies. Kids, teens and adults alike will find exhibits that are engaging and informative. Whether at the “Innovations” exhibit that discusses current Israeli inventions or the “Illusions” exhibit that reveals how our minds delude us, there is much to learn and take in.
The time for children to star in their own action adventure has come. The children are taken through stories as actual characters and are encouraged to touch and take an interactive part in the exhibits. There are courses offered for children 2.5- 12 years old that include things like: encounters with reptiles, going back in a time machine and meeting aliens. Parents and children are able to experience special exhibitions that give you a peak into the experience of the hearing impaired, the blind or the elderly.
“If you will it, it is no dream” ~ Theodore Herzl. Herzl was the founding father of Zionism and the modern Jewish state. He never did get to see the dream fulfilled but generations after him have followed in his footsteps and attributed their inspiration to him. In fact, in 2004 the state of Israel passed a “Herzl Law” which created a day of mourning on his birthday where schools and the IDF will pay special attention to studying his visions and ideology. To understand the Israeli mentality and many of the current regional conflicts it is worth getting a proper foundation on its beginnings.
Although primarily known to the non-Israeli world for signing the Peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, Menachem Begin had a full career including rebellions, arrests, leadership and his epic speeches. The museum will take you through his life and career and provide a glimpse into the powerful force that drove him and his larger than life personality.
Israel’s NMM is dedicated to the history of the Mediterranean Basin, the Red Sea and The Nile. It’s collection presents over 5000 years of maritime history. The collection includes ship models, ancient maps, archeological artifacts and art all presented in chronological order. The museum also houses temporary exhibits by local and international artists on maritime themes. Visiting the NMM is sure to be an educational and fascinating experience through time.
Israel is known for its military strength and successes. Little is known outside of Israel however about the people of the pre-state fighting force which is the backbone of the modern IDF (Israel Defence Forces). The Palmach Museum offers a visitor the experience through the Palmach legacy. Rather than boards to read, or artifacts behind a glass the museum, visitors are taken through various rooms in a 90 minute, chronological story that sets up the circumstances of creation and then goes through the journey of the underground elite fighter group.
Israel Air Force Museum, Hatzerim Air Force Base (near Be’er Sheva)
The Israel Air Force Museum is just simply, awesome, in the true sense of the word. A large span of land is filled with a collection of airplanes, helicopters, jets, missiles, pilotless aircrafts and anti-aircraft equipment. Some have the added historical value of being ones that were used in battles and even various captured enemy aircrafts are included in the exhibit. It is definitely the best way to get an understanding of the history of the IAF. Make sure to bring sunscreen, a hat and good walking shoes.
Written by: Shirrah Friedman, Simply, Israel
Simply, Israel designs unique tour packages and personalized holiday arrangements for travelers who appreciate quality, worry-free travel.