Visiting Rockefeller Museum - A Jerusalem Architectural Gem
The Rockefeller Museum is a living testimony to the wealth of cultures that took part in the history of the Land of Israel. The visit to the Rockefeller Museum takes the visitor back to the beginning of archaeological research in our region. The objects displayed in the museum are rare cornerstones of local archaeology, mostly from excavations conducted in the first decades of the 20th century. The main display in the museum spans two halls, and it is arranged chronologically.
The museum also has displays based on various themes, such as the Egyptian Empire in the Land of Canaan, wooden reliefs from Al-Aqsa Mosque from the Umayyad period, the marble windows of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher from the Crusader period, remains of ancient synagogues from the Roman and Byzantine periods, old coins, gold jewelry and a reconstructed burial cave from the Bronze Middle Age.
The museum's structure is reminiscent of European castles from the Middle Ages, and its two central halls are reminiscent of the inner space of cathedrals. The design of the domes and the arches of the building were inspired by Islamic architecture. Inside the amenity is an inner courtyard with a pool in the center inspired by the Alhambra Palace in Spain.
The history of the Rockefeller Museum
The museum was founded by James Henry Brasted, founder, and director of the Center for Oriental Studies at the University of Chicago, who, during his trip to Palestine in 1925, was amazed to discover that there was no proper archaeological museum in Jerusalem. Brasted enlisted the help of the American philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., who donated much money to the project. The site chosen for the building was northeast of the old city, on Sultan Suleiman Street.
When the museum opened its doors in 1938, its official name was the Palestine Archaeological Museum, but even then, it was known to the public as the Rockefeller Museum. During the Six Day War in 1967, Israeli forces captured the unusual octagonal structure and used its towers as observation posts. Since Israel established its control over East Jerusalem, the museum has been managed in cooperation between the Israel Museum and the Antiquities Authority, whose main offices are also in the building.