The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world's leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections in its four departments - the Bezalel Art Wing, the Bronfman Archaeology Wing, the Judaica and Jewish Ethnography Wing and the Ruth Youth Wing - and includes the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. In just forty years, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects thanks to a legacy of gifts and the support from its circle of patrons worldwide.
Among the most important holdings of the Museum's collection are the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world. Housed in the Shrine of the Book, the scrolls date from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE and include books of the Hebrew Bible as well as additional, non-canonical texts. The Shrine of the Book also houses rare early medieval manuscripts of the Bible, an auditorium and an information and study center.
One of the most recent and exciting additions to the Museum is the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period. The model reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the city as it was prior to 66 CE, the year in which the Great Revolt against the Romans erupted, leading to the eventual destruction of the city and the Temple. Originally constructed on the grounds of Jerusalem's Holyland Hotel, the model is now a permanent feature of the Museum's campus, adjacent to the Shrine of the Book.
Counted among the finest sculpture gardens of the twentieth century, the Museum's Billy Rose Art Garden, designed by the Japanese - American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, is a synthesis of different cultures - those of the Far East, the Near East and the West - against the backdrop of Jerusalem's dramatic landscape. The collection displayed in the garden includes works by such great sculptors as Menashe Kadishman, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin and James Turrell.
The Youth Wing, unique in its size and the scope of its activities, presents a wide range of programming each year to more than 100,000 schoolchildren from all over Israel, and features extensive gallery space, workshop studios, lecture halls, a library of illustrated children's books, a recycling room and a collection room. An important feature of the Youth Wing's program is its annual exhibition, designed for the entire family. The exhibition combines art works from different periods, objects drawn from Museum collections, and works by Israeli and international artists, as well as corners for interactive activities and exploration.
In addition to extensive programming at its 20-acre campus, the Museum also manages and provides programming at two other Jerusalem sites: the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, a facility built in 1938 by John D. Rockefeller for the exhibition of archaeological artifacts from the Land of Israel; and Ticho House, once the home of Dr. Avraham and Anna Ticho, the latter of whom bequeathed the house, its collections and its library to the people of the city to serve as a public center for art.