Jerusalem is a city of museums. In the past, archaeological findings discovered in Jerusalem would be displayed in small exhibit halls primarily in the Old City’s churches and monasteries. This practice changed in 1938, when the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum was built outside of the Old City walls. Later, after the State of Israel was founded, cultural institutions opened throughout the city, including the Israel Museum in 1965, the Museum for Islamic Art in 1974, and the Bible Lands Museum as well as the Science Museum in 1992. Throughout these years museums were also opened in existing buildings, including the Tower of David Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Old Yishuv Court Museum. In the near future Jerusalem is expected to see additional museum openings in the new “Museum Complex” surrounding the Israel Museum, where the National Campus for the Archaeology of Israel and the National Library are slated to open in the coming years.

The Israel Museum, which is Israel’s national museum, is the most popular of Jerusalem’s museums, and for good reason. In 2015 it displayed more than 290,000 collection items in 34 different exhibits, and had some 730,000 visitors. Other Jerusalem museums that drew large crowds in 2015 were the Bloomfield Science Museum with 291,000 visitors, the Tower of David Museum with 266,000 visitors, and the Bible Lands Museum with 228,000 visitors. In 2013, about 37% of all visitors to Israel’s recognized museums had visited a museum in Jerusalem. In other words, Jerusalem’s museums had more than 1,630,000 visitors, compared with 1,070,000 visitors to museums in Tel Aviv and the surrounding area (24% of all visitors to museums in Israel) and 530,000 visitors to museums in Haifa and its surroundings (12% of all visitors).

Sources: PILAT and Jerusalem Institute for Policy Research
Translated by Merav Datan