On Thursday, June 1, after more than a decade of planning and three years of construction with a multi-disciplinary team of archaeologists, architects, curators, researchers, designers, and creative teams, the new Tower of David Jerusalem Museum opens to the public in the ancient citadel and has been crowned as the capital’s official museum. The new structure offers a completely immersive experience combining ancient Jerusalem and interactive technology. And, for the first time in its history, the ancient citadel is now accessible to visitors.
The ancient Tower of David citadel, Jerusalem’s iconic symbol, located between the old and the new cities, is uniquely located to tell the story of Jerusalem, a city with 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 the Old City exit––the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum is now the gateway to exploring Jerusalem.
Jerusalem’s 4000-year story is told through different interactive ways, getting the visitor to participate in an exploration of the city’s past. Ten new thematic galleries are hidden in the tower’s old guard rooms that surround the open-air courtyard filled with archaeological findings dating back 2800 years.
Authentic artifacts, many displayed in situ for the first time dating back to 1500 BCE, have each been chosen to represent a different aspect of Jerusalem’s long and colorful past. Among them are minute ancient coins from the 6th century BCE that show the original one-shekel coin that was used as a model for today’s coin of the same face value. There are also stone cups from the 1st century, a Roman sword from the 2nd century, and golden coins from Byzantine Jerusalem.
Models of the Second Temple, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the Dome of the Rock are on display, an homage to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, next to innovative multi-media displays. The result is a stimulating and very enjoyable sensory experience.
Sands of Time, a 36-foot long interactive, multi-media wall that runs the length of the introductory gallery, lets visitors discover for themselves Jerusalem’s 4000-year history with just a quick touch.
Other highlights include an animation of maps from the Middle Ages; a 3D scanning of a bird’s eye view of a 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.
Director and Chief Curator Eilat Lieber said: “No other museum can tell Jerusalem’s story in such a distinctive setting, within the citadel that has witnessed so many events in the city’s past. I hope that the Tower of David can offer visitors a basis for dialogue, tolerance, and respect, and that 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.
The project is being run by Eilat Lieber – Director and Chief Curator of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum, Tal Kobo – Curator of the Permanent Exhibition, Yael Brandt – Assistant Curator, Kimmel Eshkolot Architects: Prof Etan Kimmel Co-Founder and Lead Architect Yotam Cohen-Sagi, Studio de Lange: Prof. Chanan de Lange and Arch. Tal de Lange – Concept and permanent exhibition design, Yoav Cohen – Creative and Digital Media Director.
Daily guided tours in English at 10:00 AM, Sunday through Friday (except on National Holidays), are included in the entrance ticket.