Tower Of David Grand Reopening (Photo Essay)

By BJLIfe/Sharon Altshul
Posted on 06/01/23

Jerusalem, Israel - June 1, 2023  - After more than a decade of planning and three years of construction by a multidisciplinary team that included archaeologists, architects, curators, researchers, designers, and creators, the new Tower of David Museum of Jerusalem opened today to the general public. 

United Torah Judaism MK Rabbi Meir Porush as Minister of Jerusalem and Israel Tradition was the first speaker at the opening event program. MK Zev Elkin who served in that position in a previous government attended along with the dozens of invited guests.

The Tower of David Citadel, located by the Old City Jaffa Gate, is layered with almost 3,000 years of history. It is a unique location to tell the story of Yerushalayim to the world.

The visitor flow route, which starts at the new entrance pavilion near Jaffa Gate, passes through the galleries and the observation point at the Petzal Tower and ends with an exit to the Old City. The Tower of David Jerusalem Museum is set to become the gateway to exploring Jerusalem. The route was designed as an integral part of the museum's new concept, and its purpose is to allow visitors to better understand the history of Jerusalem, while at the same time providing them with food for thought and a renewed observation of the complex reality of the city.

The different levels of the citadel are now accessible through two elevators, one near the western entrance, which brings visitors to the main exhibition level of the museum, and one on the eastern side which allows access to the galleries on the upper floor of the citadel.

On display are ten galleries in which archaeological finds, documents, and artifacts have been combined with innovative interactive stations, video artworks, and films produced especially for the exhibition. The new permanent display reveals the city where the great empires from the west and east sought to rule for nearly 4000 years and includes an unusual cinematic-animated installation created by illustrator David Polonsky .

In addition, the restored Eilish model of Jerusalem in the 19th century, designed for the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873, sheds light on the time the city burst through the walls. Much more in the galleries, but by climbing the Petzal Tower, one can see the fabulous observation point with the 360° panoramic view encompassing the past, present, and future of the city.

Two galleries for alternating exhibitions on contemporary topics will complete the story of Jerusalem. A series of leading creators joined the work, including the filmmaker Ari Pullman , who created the impressive installation at the entrance to the new exhibition.

The CEO of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum and the chief curator, Eilat Lieber explained: "There is no other museum that can tell the story of Jerusalem in such a unique environment, as inside this citadel that has witnessed countless periods and events in the city's past. The iconic architecture, the massive Jerusalem stone walls, and the arched-to-the-ceiling guard rooms create an extraordinary setting in the museum which now becomes a gateway to this one and only city. Along with the preservation of the walls of the ancient site and its towers, we established a new permanent display and creative programs that tell the long, complex, and diverse history of Jerusalem, in fascinating, innovative, and attractive ways for visitors. Whether it is students from the schools in Israel or guests from abroad, I believe that a visit to the Tower of David and the Jerusalem Museum will leave a powerful impression on them and provide them with a better understanding of this eternal city. I hope that the visit to the museum will be a basis for dialogue, tolerance, and respect - the values Let them make the world a better place."

"The design concept was born from the architectural features of the citadel and its place in Jerusalem's history," described the museum's designer, architect Tal de Lange. "The citadel was our source of inspiration, and based on it we created an experience of modern, clean, and accessible design, which emphasizes the multi-layered architectural and historical character of the place."

The founder of Kimel Eshkolot Architects, Eitan Kimel, described the architectural challenge of the renewal project: "The opportunity to bring the 21st century to this ancient iconic site is a huge responsibility and honor. We were assigned the task of renovating one of Jerusalem's ancient and important architectural treasures. The challenge was to find solutions to preserve the ancient stones which represent Jerusalem's past, without harming its historical value, while planning new architectural buildings and using modern materials to create an interesting meeting between old and new. A fundamental principle in our planning was respect for the ancient building and what it treasures inside. Our mission was to find ways to integrate technology and infrastructure into the building Innovative without detracting from and damaging the beauty of the ancient stone walls and ceilings."

After the museum opening on June 1st, during the months of June and July, special events open to the general public will be held. For example, the "Secrets from the Editing Room" event will be held on June 8, in which a team of museum curators and creators will spread across the citadel and share with the audience stories and explanations about behind the scenes, from architecture and design to curation and history.

In the month of July, an interactive multimedia exhibition "Street Games" will be presented in the new gallery space for changing exhibitions where visitors will be invited to become the "architects of the city" and design the well-known streets of Jerusalem.

Activities for families and children are planned throughout the summer.

The renovation and preservation project of the museum, the scope of which is estimated at over 50 million dollars, was led by Dame Vivian Duffield through the Klore Israel Foundation and with the support of the Jerusalem Municipality, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Jewish Tradition, the Ministry of Heritage, the Ministry of Tourism, the Patrick and Lina Darhi Foundation, the Foundation, the Jerusalem, Friends of the American Museums in Israel and the Faye Austin Foundation.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion who attended the opening stated, "Jerusalem is honored to be a leading partner in the preservation and renewal of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum. Jerusalem is unlike any other city, and the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum is unlike any city museum. The Old Citadel has been a symbol of Jerusalem throughout the ages and one of the historical and archaeological heritage sites. The most important in the world. The Tower of David and the new Jerusalem Museum will serve as the new gateway to Jerusalem for the millions of visitors, tourists, and pilgrims who wish to explore the rich and complex history of the city before visiting the religious sites and the alleyways of the Old City."

In November 2021, BJL toured and shared the early stages of the Tower of David renewal work. While the new entrance is not completed, the new entrance room was a highlight of the evening with its interactive and engaging videos.

The photo essay includes scenes from the new exhibitions and opening event program. One of the Tower of David Jerusalem Museum guides for the evening was Susie Diamond Ben David, formerly of Baltimore