Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Renewed Israel Museum

Last week we visited the Israel Museum. They’re rebranding it as the Renewed Israel Museum because of all the changes made to it, both in terms of physical structure and content. It's not quite finished yet, but its getting there.

Overall, I give it two thumbs up.


I like the new layout. I like the tunnel. I like the Judaica and Archeology sections. The Second Temple Model (formerly at the Holy Land Hotel) was great (could use more shade though). And the Shrine of the Book (along with its Aleppo Codex exhibit) is always fascinating.

I think they made the museum less crowded with fewer individual pieces of art and history on display, but they chose the more interesting pieces and organized them better. It’s certainly roomier than I remember.

The (dairy) restaurants were good. No meat restaurants though.

I couldn’t stand their Modern Art exhibits.


I have no patience for what they want to call Modern Art. It’s idiotic. Feel free to disagree, but a mobile of hanging musical instruments, or videos of what could just as easily be fillers on MTV or PBS just doesn’t do it for me.

My kids couldn't stop laughing at the "Modern Art" videos - and that alone tells you the level that stuff is at.


Point of information: Guards do not appreciate it when children try to play the hanging instruments.

What I did like about the Modern Art section is they finally took out that super-annoying audio recording of the guy screaming “Shabbos”. I found it so offensive and annoying to hear that any time you walked near that section.

The classical arts section was fine.

Point of information: Guards do not appreciate it when children are holding cups of water in their hands in this section.

In the archeology section, I kept the kids busy by having them look for the dead bodies. They found them.

Point of information: Guards do not appreciate it when children try to look inside the ossuaries.


If you haven't realized it yet, if you’re going with kids, make sure the Renewed Israel Museum is having activities in the youth wing that day. My kids spent hours there doing art projects. During the summer they also have kid’s art projects outside on certain days.

Overall, well worth the visit - especially with kids. My kids were fascinated with every room we visited, and we hung up the paintings they made on our walls at home.

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10 comments:

Lurker said...

Thank you for the review. I am looking forward to go see it myself.

I would be interested in your opinion regarding this critical article from Arutz 7 about the aims and focus of the newly renovated museum. (The New York Times interview with James Snyder referred to by the Arutz 7 article is here.)

JoeSettler said...

Other than the awful Modern Art, I didn't see anything controversial in how they chose to display and organize their displays. The layout is much cleaner and less packed than it was. Obviously they selected which pieces were going on display.

But I wasn't looking for controversy either.

The Israel Museum is a museum that is the equivalent of what the Louvre is to France, and the Met is to NY.

And there was plenty of focus on Jewish/Israeli subjects throughout the museum. And there is also focus not on Jewish/Israel.

There is an entire wing dedicated to Israel, Judaism and Judaica. What more can you ask for?

The controversy sounds contrived. Though an expert in museum layouts might disagree.

JoeSettler said...

I forgot to add, that now you buy your tickets inside near the restaurant, and don't need to wait on the long lines outside in the sun like you used to.

jonathan becker said...

i also went recently for the first time since they re-opened. the renovations are obviously far from complete but in general i agree with your observations. i wasn't that impressed with the new hallway, though- i joked to my friend that it must be an exhibit about what it feels like in a modern airport. the museum is, as always, impressive and i also liked what they had done with the archeology wing. still, 3 years...what where they doing, building underground bunkers for the nearby knesset members? :)

re: the arutz7 article: if you believe the earth is 6000 years old, there's just some stuff you're not gonna be down with.

jonathan becker said...

another thing i noticed, not the museums fault but: there's a lot of new "land of israel" stuff that is really fascinating and beautiful, but much of it has been donated or lent from the private collections of rich jewish chutzniks. since many of these pieces were certainly bought up by these magpies on the black market, the blurbs will say something like "found in the vicinity of samaria" or something like that- meaning, we don't know that much about this thing since it was stolen and bought by non-archaologists. nothing to do about it, i know, but i thought it was sad. still, it's better to see it than not see it, so i don't want to discourage anyone from going. go, by all means, go!

JLan said...

I was there this week as well. The archaeology section is very nicely done, with clear labels and a good narrative as you move along that actually teaches, rather than just telling you what each thing is.

Re: the arutz7 article- probably the most controversial thing is that the historical narrative in the archaeological section goes along with the standard view of most historians and archaeologists, questioning the size and extent of the Exodus and the strength of the Davidic kingdom.

SquarePeg613 said...

The Museum booklet says there's a family tour at 10:30. Did you do it? How was it? We are planning to go in a couple of days.

JoeSettler said...

I didn't do any of the tours, but there were a number of them throughout the day. Tours in English too. I did see people on the tours. They seemed to be enjoying.

anon said...

"probably the most controversial thing is that the historical narrative in the archaeological section goes along with the standard view of most historians and archaeologists, questioning the size and extent of the Exodus and the strength of the Davidic kingdom."

Why is it CONTROVERSIAL to go along with the STANDARD view of MOST historians and archaologists? Because, it contradicts the traditional view? It is not meant to be a religious museum, and it isn't realistic to expect it to be. (Perhaps, religious scholars should be more proactive in those fields presenting evidence for their perspective.)
Although, perhaps it could be expected to present an alternative approach where it is defensible.

Perhaps, a religious scholar could publish a guide to the museum from a perspective that is consistent with the Tanach.

Jewish Ideas Daily said...

You can get another perspective on the renewed museum at http://www.jidaily.com/BLQ

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