After three years of construction and a $50 million renovation, the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum has opened its doors – combining heady mix of architecture, artefacts and a completely immersive experience for its visitors. Using state-of-the-art interactive technology, the museum is designed to provide a greater understanding of Jerusalem’s 4,000-year history, bringing the Old City into the 21st century.

The renovation project has been in planning for more than a decade with Dame Vivien Duffield at the helm 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, this highly anticipated project is finally ready to welcome in its first visitors.

A multi-disciplinary team has been working hard behind the scenes to deliver the project, including archaeologists, architects, researchers, curators, creatives and designers.

This marks the first time in history that the Tower of David’s ancient citadel has been accessible to the masses. Located between the Old and New City, it is uniquely placed to regale visitors with the story of Jerusalem – arguably the most famous city in history.

The museum welcomes guests with a new multi-level sunken entrance pavilion at the Jaffa Gate. The gateway provides a new way into the Old City, and creates an intentional visitor flow that complements the learning journey of the museum.

Across 10 completely new thematic galleries, Jerusalem’s 4,000-year story is told, including its links to Christianity, Judaism and Islam, with models of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Second Temple and the Dome of the Rock. Some galleries are housed in structures built by the Ottomans in the 17th century, others hark back to the 12th century Crusades, while some date still further back to the reign of King Herod more than 2,000 years ago.

The depth of history explored within the museum is wonderfully juxtaposed by the innovative and engaging technology on display.

State of the art tech takes visitors right into the heart of Jerusalem’s history, with 3D digital modelling, video mapping, immersive 360 video installations, an interactive sphere and a huge 12-metre interactive multimedia wall. Here, visitors can view maps from the Middles Ages, see a bird’s eye view of 19th century Jerusalem, and measure the distance between Jerusalem and different cities around the world.

Films created for the museum include an animated 4,000 year history of the city, told in only three minutes by Golden Globe winning artist Ari Folman. There is also a 360-degree touch film inside the Al Aqsa Mosque.

The technology doesn’t distract from the artefacts on display. In fact, it enhances our understanding of them. Many of the artifacts are displayed in-situ for the first time, dating back as far as 1,500 BCE. Each one has been carefully chosen to represent a different aspect of Jerusalem’s colourful past, from 1st century stone cups to ancient coins and a Roman sword.

The overall size of the museum area has doubled with its renovation, now spanning more than 20,000 square metres. The ancient citadel’s walls and minaret have been carefully conserved and, most importantly, the museum is now accessible to all visitors thanks to an ambitious Accessibility Program. This includes a first-of-its-kind elevator, chair lifts and ramps.

Director and Chief Curator of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum, Eilat Lieber, commented:

“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.

“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 Tower of David Jerusalem Museum opened its doors on 1st June 2023. There are daily guided tours in English at 10am every Sunday – Friday, expect on National Holidays.

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