The National Library of Israel (NLI) has announced that a generous gift from legendary entertainment figure and philanthropist David Geffen will establish the David Geffen Auditorium on the new National Library campus, on schedule to open its doors next year adjacent to the Knesset in Jerusalem.
The 480-seat, 5,000 sq. ft. space will present a best-in-class performance venue, filling a much-needed niche for a multi-purpose hall of this size and caliber in Israel’s capital. The rear of the stage will feature a distinctive 24 ft. (7.5 m.) high glass curtain wall, which will provide a visual connection to the campus’s Idan and Batia Ofer Park featuring a public outdoor amphitheater, plaza, and pedestrian area.
David Geffen was born in Borough Park, Brooklyn, to Jewish immigrants who met in British Mandatory Palestine and then moved to the United States. Geffen’s mother owned a clothing store in Borough Park called Chic Corsets by Geffen. Geffen graduated from Brooklyn’s New Utrecht High School in 1960 with a “barely passing 66 average.” He attended the University of Texas at Austin for a semester, and then Brooklyn College, before again dropping out. He then moved to Los Angeles, attended Santa Monica College but soon left. Geffen attributed his challenges in school to dyslexia.
For more than half a century, David Geffen has been a leading force in the entertainment industry, defining popular culture and becoming a prominent philanthropist by providing major support to countless causes, particularly in the fields of health and the arts. His support to UCLA established the Geffen School of Medicine and the Geffen Academy. He has been a leader in the fight against AIDS since the early years of the epidemic. As a patron of the arts, Geffen has made substantial gifts to the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Geffen Playhouse, and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. In 2015, the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center was named in his honor, the David Geffen Hall.
The David Geffen Auditorium is the most prominent philanthropic support for an Israeli cultural institution from Geffen.
The new NLI campus, designed by the renowned architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, will provide access to the Library’s world-class collections as never before, and offer a range of venues for its groundbreaking cultural and educational programming in a secure, sustainable, and state-of-the-art environment.
The David Geffen Auditorium will be a centerpiece of the new campus, playing host to concerts, conferences, lectures, film screenings, performances, and other special events produced by NLI, as well as other institutions and organizations.
To ensure exceptional versatility for the range of events to be held there, the design incorporates optimized sightlines, lighting, and audio-visual equipment, as well as a customized ceiling that will integrate mineral fiber, gypsum, and wood elements to achieve ideal multifaceted acoustics for different types of events, including musical performances, lectures, panel discussions and more.
The David Geffen Auditorium plays a key role within the 129-year-old National Library’s current transformative renewal, which strives to open access and encourage diverse audiences in Israel and around the globe to engage with the treasures of Jewish, Israeli, and Middle Eastern cultures through a range of cultural, educational, academic and digital initiatives.