Modern and ancient coexist in $50 million Tower of David renovation

It has taken six years to completely renovate Jerusalem’s Tower of David Museum, an ancient bastion adjacent to the Old City’s Jaffa Gate that dates to the Mamluk and Ottoman periods.

A sneak peek ahead of its June 1 reopening proves it was well worth the wait.

Now labeled by City Hall as the capital’s official museum, the Citadel provides a gateway into the Old City and new, clever ways to digest the historical materials and lore that make up Jerusalem’s history and traditions Are.

The $50 million renovation and conservation was led by Dame Vivian Duffield through the Clor Israel Foundation, with support from the Jerusalem Municipality, the Jerusalem Ministry and Jewish Tradition, the Ministry of Heritage, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Patrick and Lena Drahi Foundation. Karen Hesod, The Jerusalem Foundation, The American Friends of the Museum in Israel and the P. Austin Family Foundation.

Technology and original artifacts easily co-exist in this new and improved version, offering visitors a deep dive into the Citadel’s timeline, dating back to the times of Herod, the early Muslims and the Crusaders, all of whom used the fort for the protection of the city. Power.

There are wildly imaginative animated films by Israeli animators, including Golden Globe winner Ari Folman and renowned illustrator David Polonsky, as well as interactive maps and a giant interactive globe, all part of Creative Digital Media directed by Yoav Cohen.

An animated short created by Ari Folman for the renovated Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, reopening June 1, 2023 (courtesy Oded Antman)

Digital media share space with ancient artefacts found in the fort that have never been displayed before. Part of the restoration included new excavations in various areas of the citadel, and a complex conservation program led by the Israel Antiquities Authority.

The museum is now almost fully accessible, with two lifts, wide walkways and ramps carefully constructed for the archaeological site. Its walls and minaret have also been preserved, and the museum was redesigned to be part of the town and urban landscape rather than a self-enclosed fortress.

The museum is entered directly across the Jaffa Gate from a new covered entrance pavilion, which houses the ticket office and a café (not yet open), leading into the first gallery, which has 12 interactive screens depicting the history of the citadel. Let’s break it down into its various time periods. ,

The timeline, “Sands of Time,” is one of director Elliot Lieber’s favorite new additions, with multiple ways to understand each period in Jerusalem’s history with just the touch of a screen. “It’s big, beautiful, deep and interesting,” Lieber said.

‘Sands of Time’, 12 interactive screens at the newly renovated Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, to reopen June 1, 2023 (courtesy Ricky Rachman)

While the interactive screens (and interactive globes) can occupy a visitor for a good hour, it is also the site of a short animated film by Ari Folman (“Waltz with Bashir,” “Where Is Anne Frank”).

With clever imagery, Folmann uses one of the ancient stone walls as his screen, picturing chapters from Rulers of Jerusalem in a five-minute film.

I could watch it multiple times.

It’s not the only piece of slick animation; Animated works by artist Dov Abramson are installed in an upper-floor gallery, and displayed on glass through which the stone walls are still visible.

David Polonsky, of “Waltz with Bashir” fame (as well as ninth AV animated film “Legend of Destruction”) takes over the vaulted ceiling in another upstairs gallery, making use of every nook and cranny for a wildly entertaining seven minutes Film about Jerusalem’s holiday cycle, which includes every religion and season.

Audio is provided by composer Amitai Cohen, who recorded the authentic sounds of a Greek Orthodox Palm Sunday march, the thunder of chilly rain and observant Jews waving citrons and myrtle at city traffic jams.

Artist David Polonsky’s seven-minute experience in the renovated Tower of David Museum allows for the convergence of the three calendars of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (courtesy Ricky Rachman)

The museum’s intense focus on technology is balanced by deep dives into its collections. But first it had to locate its artifact.

Lieber, who has been museum director since 2012, had long been told that most of the museum’s artifacts were destroyed in the fire. She went on a search-and-find mission to a storeroom in Beit Shemesh, where some unknown boxes contained a treasure trove of museum objects.

“The real objects tell the story,” Lieber said, adding that ancient seals, Crusader-era daggers and other objects are displayed in several galleries alongside digital media.

Fully restored Illes model of Jerusalem map built for the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair, with additional digital media for the reconstructed Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, reopening June 1, 2023 (courtesy Oded Entmann)

Another upper gallery contains a fully restored illustration model of the Jerusalem map made for the 1873 Vienna World’s Fair, detailing the city’s topography with copper-wire trees and zinc-modeled buildings.

It was also discovered by chance in the 1980s in the attic of the University Library of Geneva by a pair of Hebrew University students.

The mix of old and new continues in 20,000 square meters of expanded museum exhibition space curated by Tal Kabo, with films by Yair Moss that juxtapose the ancient and new city, and three documentary films from “Uvda” by Ben Shani With Ultimate Gallery. Keshet’s investigative television series, created using archival footage.

“We put the citadel on a pedestal, aiming to keep the reconstructed architecture as clean as possible despite the different sizes and proportions of each room in the citadel,” said designer Tal Roh de Lange.

This was a major challenge in a 3,000-year-old site. Each gallery now has a light, airy feel with newly arched windows, which look out over the streets of the old town to mix the modern with the ancient.

Roih de Lange said there is not a technology system in sight, not a single exposed wire and even the light fixtures were kept small to allow for the amount of space.

“There must be a balance of the old and the new,” said Roh de Lange. “This fort was here before us and will be here after us and we need to keep it as clean as possible,” below the typeface used for the small amount of text, which is a modern look with touches of ancient Jerusalem. Is.

Interactive globe in the newly renovated Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem, which is slated to reopen June 1, 2023 (courtesy Ricky Rachman)

Temporary exhibits will still be created for the museum, with the first, about the architecture and streets of Jerusalem by architect David Kroenker, shown in the exhibition space under the new entrance pavilion.

“The idea is to be able to frequently renew the museum,” Lieber said. “Whether it is a school student from Israel or a foreign visitor, I hope that the Tower of David can provide them with a basis for dialogue, tolerance and respect. These are the things that will make the world a better place and serve those coming from near and far.” Visitors will leave the museum with a better understanding of Jerusalem, this eternal city.