Jerusalem, Israel - Feb. 21, 2024 - After more than a decade of planning and four years of construction, with a multi-disciplinary team of archaeologists, architects, curators, researchers, designers, and creatives, the final phase of the $50 million renewal of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum is complete with the opening of the new multi-level sunken Angelina Drahi Entrance Pavilion.

For years, BJL has closely followed the progress of construction.  While a grand opening for the Jerusalem Museum was held in June 2023, and multiple events have been organized for families adversely affected by the war over the past few months, the opening of the newest addition to the public is planned for the first week in March. 

The Tower of David citadel, located between the old and new city, is layered with nearly 3,000 years of history. It is uniquely placed to tell the story of Jerusalem, a city that has no equal in the world.  The newest architectural addition to the Old City of Jerusalem is accessible with the new entrance off of Jaffa Gate.

With its new visitor flow the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum becomes the gateway to the exploration of Jerusalem. Integral to the museum’s new concept, the new building, a sleek, elegant, modern glass structure, allows direct entrance from the Jaffa Gate and the Mamilla shopping complex to the new Tower of David Jerusalem Museum.  

Visitors enter the pavilion, pass through the museum that tells Jerusalem's 4000-year-old history, explore the national heritage site, photograph the spectacular views of the whole of Jerusalem, and then walk out into the hustle and bustle of the alleyways of the Old City. 

The ancient citadel was built as a fortress to keep people out and has been transformed into a welcoming and accessible environment, ready to house a modern museum and everything that entailed. The new technology involved provides interactive exhibits to engage the younger generations in exploring the past.
On a media tour before entering, Etan Kimmel, Founder, of Kimmel Eshkolot Architects told of the architectural challenge: “The opportunity to bring the 21st century to this ancient iconic site is both a responsibility and an honor. We were set the task of renovating one of the earliest and most important architectural treasures of Jerusalem. Our challenge boiled down to our ability to find solutions to preserve the ancient stones that represent Jerusalem’s past without compromising their historic value or their beauty, all the while planning new architectural structures and introducing modern infrastructure using modern materials to create a fruitful, interesting meeting between the new and the old. Ever present in our planning was our respect for this ancient structure."

The strategic move to build the new entrance pavilion on the western side of the citadel at the Jaffa Gate harnessed the energy of the growing Jerusalem metropolis.

 The Jaffa Gate has been the main entrance into the Old City for hundreds of years.  In the last 20 years, however, there has been modern infrastructure added by the municipality allowing for easy access from the light rail, and for parking in the Mamilla-Alrov shopping boulevard lots.

Yotam Cohen-Sagi, Lead Architect, Kimmel Eshkolot Architects added, "You only need to use a teaspoon to dig up antiquities in the Old City of Jerusalem, and this is even more true when you are building a 1000 square meter structure underground next to a citadel thousands of years old. From the first moment, therefore, we used all the tools at our disposal to minimize the lack of certainty of what would be found including 3D imaging, core samples, exploratory archaeological excavations, and documenting the excavation that was done on-site at the beginning of the 20th century.  We worked closely with the Israel Antiquities Authority. Despite several engineering changes and adaptations requested during the actual excavation work, and finds that were discovered in some of the area, the building that was finally erected is almost the same building that appears in the first sketches!" Carbon dating was done in special labs in Rechovot to ensure accuracy.

The new entrance pavilion is built 17 meters down. It now houses the ticket office of the museum, a gallery space for temporary exhibitions, and a labyrinth of offices for the Education Department underground. An outdoor shaded seating area will be available to the public, and, in May 2024, the coffee shop is to open.

 Director and Chief Curator, Eilat Lieber, said she had many sleepless nights, as the final responsibility of the project would fall on the curator. What if during digging and construction, the walls would fall down? Special sensors to measure the slightest movement were attached to the stones. With the app on her cellphone to follow the project, she was able to rest more easily.

The $50 million renewal and conservation of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum was led by Dame Vivien Duffield 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 Family Foundation.

The photo essay includes the new modern glass pavilion, selected highlights from galleries on the Tower of David Museum tour, and the view from the top of the tower on a warm clear day, after rain with a perfectly blue sky.