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rockefeller museum

Located in East Jerusalem, the Rockefeller is an archaeological museum that houses an vast collection of artifacts uncovered in the Holy Landin the British Mandate Period. Its extensive exhibition is augemented by its special archicectural design, making it a distinct historical landmark.

History of the Rockefeller Museum

Established in 1938, the Rockefeller Museum was funded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. following the Egyptians decline of his initial offer to sponser a museum in Cairo. Austin Harrison, the chief architect of the British Mandatory Department for Public Works, designed it. The structure is built of local white limestone, and its elegant and eclectic design quotes elements from various buildings across Jerusalem. The exhibition is set chronologically, and the collections are based on archaeological digs conducted throughout the Holy Land in the 1920s and 1930s. The museum was opened twice in 1938, twice. The first opening was canceled as Arabs assassinated one of the archaeologists on his way to the opening ceremony. In 1948, the Jordanians took control of the museum yet made no changes to its exhibits. They only covered the Hebrew signs with tape.

Since 1967, the Israel Museum manages the Rockefeller museum, and the  Israel Antiquities Authority uses its offices. The Museum’s library is one of the best collections of Biblical and Levantine Archaeology.

Touring the Rockefeller Museum

rockefeller museum insideThe Museum still exhibits the original display from when it opened in 1938. The main halls are set chronologically, from Prehistory to the Mamluk period. The side wings are devoted to topics such as Egyptian finds, Jewish archaeology, artifacts from Al-Aqsa Mosque, artifacts from the Holy Sepulchre, and finds from the Khirbet el-Mafjar Muslim palace in Jericho.

Reaching the museum is somewhat a challenge, as the compound has limited public transportation and parking space. It is also open only 4 days of the week, from 10:00 to 15:00.

A tour of the Rockefeller Museum can be combined with a guided day tour of Jerusalem.

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