A visit to the Rockefeller Museum leaves archaeology buffs wondering what fascinated them more – this magnificently eclectic complex or the exhibits it houses.
This was Jerusalem’s first proper antiquities museum, built opposite the Old City walls by John D. Rockefeller in 1938. It combines Middle Eastern stone archways, domes, and interior courtyards with European accents like the vaulted library (which welcomes drop-ins), heavy walnut doors and metal fixtures imported from England.
The old-fashioned rectangular display cases that line the galleries seem not to have changed since Mandate times, and recall the famous old photos of the “Scrollery” – the room in this building where scholars worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls in the 1950s.
The cases reveal many heritage treasures, especially from the great digs of the early twentieth century such as Gezer, Jericho and Beit She’an, to name just a few. Rockefeller, home to the Israel Antiquities Authority and under the management of the Israel Museum, also mounts changing exhibits.
Perusing everything from coins and jewelry to mosaics, statuary and sarcophagi, history-lovers can wander these long, cool halls in awe for hours.