Israel is filled with museums addressing topics ranging from history to archeology to science to politics. You can spend hours in each one of them, and every time you come back to Israel you’ll find a new museum or center that will teach you something new! It’s always an adventure going to museums in Israel! Where do you start? Here are my top ten museums in Israel to start off with.
#1: Israel Museum
My number one for museums in Israel is the Israel Museum. The Israel Museum is the national museum of the country, and was built in 1965. Jerusalem’s former mayor Teddy Kollek was the major figure in ensuring the museum’s creation. The museum is home to the Shrine of the Book, a Second Temple Model, an archeological wing, a Judaic wing, a fine arts wing, and more. It is home to many of the important archeological finds of the country from Tel Dan to Eilat. It owns a collection of nearly 500,000 objects. Off campus branches include Rockefeller Archaeological Museum and the Ticho House.
#2: Eretz Israel Museum
The Eretz Israel Museum is a historical and archeological museum in Tel Aviv. Museum officials and archeologists established the museum in 1953. The museum is made up of different pavilions, each with a different subject, such as glassware, ceramics, coins, and copper. The museum is also home to a planetarium and Tel Quasile, an ancient site that goes down 12 layers deep. You could literally spend hours in the museum learning how people lived in Israel thousands of years ago!!!
#3: Independence Hall
Of all the museums in Israel, Independence Hall is quite an important one. Independence Hall is the very location of where the Jewish leadership declared Israel’s independence. It’s a small museum, but to sit in the spot where David Ben Gurion and his colleges read and signed the Declaration of Independence is a truly moving moment. The building was one of the first homes built in Tel Aviv becoming the home of Meir Dizengoff. In 1930, it became the first art museum of the city, and in 1948, the Jewish Council came to the Art Museum and declared Israel an independent country. Only in the 1970’s did it become a museum remembering the events that happened here!
#4: Yad VaShem
Yad VaShem is Israel’s national Holocaust Memorial and Museum, located in Jerusalem. In 1953, the Israeli Parliament pass the Yad Vashem Law, thereby establishing the Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority. Moshe Safde designed the museum. On the site is the museum, telling the timeline the Holocaust and World War II, a children’s memorial, a partisans’ memorial, and more. It’s an important place to visit in order to learn about and remember the atrocities that happened during that time.
#5: The Museum of the Jewish People
The Museum of the Jewish People is located in northern Tel Aviv, and focuses on the story of the Jewish People in countries around the world throughout time. From the Jewish communities in the United States to Argentina, to Ethiopia and Yemen, to India, the museum’s most treasured possessions are the stories it tells. The exhibits range from synagogues found around the world to Jewish celebrities like Amy Winehouse and Bob Dylan, to the Jewish lifecycle and calendar. If you are looking to explore and get a new perspective on the Jewish people, this is a great museum to visit!
#6: Menachem Begin Heritage Center
The Menachem Begin Heritage Center explores the life and role of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. It is here you can learn about his time in Russia, his work toward creating Israel, and his dedication to the Jewish people. By coming to the museum, you will better understand the man behind the stories, the pictures, and the headlines. It is only through learning about all the aspects of a person’s life can we really understand their real effects on society. And so, it is through visiting the center that we can really understand Menachem Begin!
#7 David Ben Gurion’s Home
David Ben Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel, and a great leader for the Jewish people. He was fluent in Russian, Polish, Yiddish, English, Hebrew, and Turkish. Ben Gurion owned literally thousands of books. He grew up in a religious home, resulting in him knowing the holy texts of Judaism. David Ben Gurion loved the State of Israel, the Jewish People, and he especially loved the Negev Desert. Ben Gurion helped establish universities, the military, and institutions throughout the Negev. Visiting his home, now a museum, can shed some light on the man who was all of five feet tall! The only question is… which house do you go to? His home in Tel Aviv or in Sde Boker?!
#8: Weizmann Institute
The Weizmann Institute is a highly ranked science research institution. Many of Israel’s Nobel Prize Winners work at the Institute. The Institute is named after Chaim Weizmann, the Institute’s founder and Israel’s first President. Chaim Weizmann was born in Russia in 1874. He was education in biochemistry in Switzerland and Germany. It was in Geneva he became active in the Zionist movement. In 1905 when he moved to England, the Zionist community elected him to the General Zionist Council.
During WWI he helped the British military forces with scientific advancements. By the end of WWI, he was close enough to the British leadership to bring about the Balfour Declaration in 1917. He later moved to Rehovot, Israel, and laid the foundations for the research center. It now is located next to his home. By exploring the Institute, the Science Park, and Chaim Weizmann’s house, we can begin to understand where Israel’s science connection began!
#9: Nachum Gutman Museum
Nachum Gutman was born in Romania and came to Israel in 1905. He learned in the Herzlia Gymnasium in Tel Aviv and at the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem. Through his hard work and unique story, he earned the title “the artist of earl Tel Aviv.” He won the 1978 Israeli Prize for Children’s Literature. You can see his artwork throughout the city of Tel Aviv. Exploring his museum in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv allows us to get a glimpse at the man and his artwork.
#10: The Ayalon Institute
The Ayalon Institute is located in Rehovot, Israel. During the War of Independence, the Jewish forces didn’t have enough ammunition to fight the War. And it was illegal for them to resupply. So the Jewish forces had to solve this secretly and underground. They did that here at Machon Ayalon. During the War of Independence, workers made thousands of bullets for the war front. The museum has preserved the factory that made all these bullets in order to remember this aspect of the War.
These are just my top 10 museums of Israel. There are many, many others to visit. Do you know of any other good museums in Israel? Go ahead and share! They are all very good, and provide an amazing insight to the State of Israel.