Sunday, December 10, 2017

Touring Middle East 15: The Two Museums

We spent the whole day museum-hopping in Jerusalem as part of our itinerary. Our first stop is the Holocaust History Museum as part of the Yad Vashem complex, built by the Israeli Government as the memorial to the victims of Nazi Holocaust.

The museum sits solemnly on Mount Herzl in the western part of Jerusalem, with the vast exhibition space dedicated to the historical accounts of the event, beginning with the rise of Hitler and the Nazi movement, the breakout of war, life under Nazi rule, and the genocide committed against Jews and other minorities in the later stage of the war. I am particularly interested in World War II history so I found the visit enlightening and invoked much soul-searching. It's similar to the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC with a similar theme and artifacts, but this one in Jerusalem is much bigger and complete, going through every single ghettos (sections of town set up by Nazi Germany in occupied territory to segregate Jews) and every single concentration camps where millions were murdered. At the end of the exhibition was the Hall of Names, containing the electronic record of all who vanished during the Holocaust with the pictures displayed as a memorial and a section called "Righteous Among the Nations" honoring those non-Jews went above and beyond to save Jewish people (the most famous of whom Oskar Schindler with his story made into an award-winning movie)

Everyone walked out of the museum with a heavy heart but this is definitely a must-stop for every Jerusalem visitor. It's good to be reminded this horrible part of history (happening not so distant ago) which is not only key to Israel as a nation but to all mankind in general, so this is not to be repeated again.


When I saw the itinerary mentioning the visit to the Israel Museum, I wasn't paying much attention of what it is about, but turned out it's an amazing place which I wish I could spend the whole day exploring (instead of making just a quick stopover as we did)

After the visit and lunch at Yad Vashem, the Israel Museum was just a short drive away. The primary reason we were here is to visit the Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, considered the most important biblical manuscripts ever discovered in terms of age and completeness. The exhibition hall - housed underground under a white dome - covers everything from the history of how the scrolls were discovered and made their way to the museum, and part of the original scroll was on display on rotation.

But then there's more. On the other side was their fine arts wing, with an impressive permanent collection of fine arts and space for temporary exhibitions. Running short of time, we went straight to Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Painting collection at the back of the exhibition hall with a number of works by the likes of Gauguin, Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. Right above on the second level was an exhibition featuring the outspoken Ai Weiwei, with his artwork of photography, video and large-scale installation (one with a soft carpet which stretches across the entire hall) I could only check online afterwards and admire at so many other collections that we didn't manage to touch upon.

There were so much more to see... if only we had more time.


(Touring Middle East - Part 15)

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