Israel Museum Renewal

Inauguration 25/7/2010

The Israel Museum opened in 1965 in Jerusalem, in a Modernist complex nestled on the Judean Hills near the Knesset — the national parliament building — and the Hebrew University. Since that time, it has become the most eminent cultural institution in the region and one of the leading art and archaeology museums in the world, with collections growing exponentially over the past four decades.

45 years later The Israel Museum has undergone a three-year expansion and renewal project, which is considered to be the most comprehensive upgrade in its history. The $100 million expansion and renewal project guided by James Snyder, Israel Museum Director since 1996, was designed to enhance visitor experience of the museum’s collections, architecture, and surrounding landscape, complementing its original design by Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad

Snyder’s vision for the museum from the very beginning was quite simple:

” take a great museum and make it even greater”.

The Israel Museum original design by the Israeli architect Alfred Mansfeld and interior designer Dora Gad, opened in 1965 was based upon various unconnected spread pavilions scheme, described as many museums under one roof, while Snyder’s vision say was.

“We are not many museums; we are an encyclopedic museum where – in one setting – you can see ancient history and contemporary art; where you can see Jewish, Asian and African cultures unfolding.”

To achieve Snyder’s vision goal in the renewal of the Israel Museum had participated in the project The New York firm of James Carpenter Design Associates (JCDA) as responsible for adding new structures, while Efrat-Kowalsky Architects of Tel Aviv refurbished the museum’s stunning array of low-rise pavilions, spilling down a gently sloped 20-acre site. Together, they reaffirm the museum’s status as the finest contemporary architectural landmark in Jerusalem while A. Lerman Architects firm Tel Aviv—based, served as local project architects at the head of Architect Tammy Yaniv.

The renovation provides a far clearer and more accessible path into and through the museum, which had expanded several times since it opened nearly a half-century ago. The new pavilions that echo the rectilinear geometry of the original design now serve as the entry and house ticketing and a bookstore. In addition, JCDA reconstructed an existing pavilion to serve as a restaurant and café. But in contrast to the more solid, insular modules for the exhibition areas used by Mansfeld — made of cast-in-place concrete clad in limestone and banded by unshaded clerestory windows — Carpenter, who is not an architect by training, is a Minimalist known for blurring the lines between art and architecture wanted a greater transparency to heighten the connection between the architecture and landscape, and so made the new pavilions out of glass, shielded by louvers.

Employing a system of Terracotta clay Louvers, manufactured by Moeding in Marklkofen Germany, Carpenter has sought to soften and diffuse the intense Mediterranean sunshine while permitting views of the surrounding rocky terrain, pines, olives trees, and other vegetation. Moeding had produced Louver profiles of 2 different shapes including special metal fixing to the vertical mullions on which the profiles had been installed.  On the north and south exposures, the stationary louvers are more open, having used Profile 1 shape, while those on the east and west merely allow the light to penetrate and reflect, having used Profile 2 shape. At night, the pavilions glow like lanterns from within on all sides. The terra-cotta louver system designed by James Carpenter and his crew headed by Architect Reid Freeman of James Carpenter Design Associates Inc. had been studied,

elaborated and tested by Moeding’s experts while long interim of production colored samples and surface tested finishes had been made by Moeding Company to achieve James Carpenter light goals to the new buildings.

JCDA also inserted an underground passageway leading from the entry to the hilltop exhibition area that permits visitors the choice of avoiding an open-air ascent via steps in the blazing heat. The museum visitors are lead to the passageway from entrance gate through metal structure pergola covered horizontally by impressive unique Longoton® Terracotta tiles made by Moeding which had been carefully studied and elaborated, to donate a peaceful pedestrian walk atmosphere under 7 meters  length pre-assembled special grey tiles.

On its west side of the air-conditioned passageway tunnel, had been installed unique special glazed semi white Longoton® 350mm width x3000mm height Terracotta tiles made by Moeding in the back of water cascades protected by  prismatic glass. On the east side of the passageway tunnel had been installed exclusive black glazed surface Longoton® 350mm width x3000mm height Terracotta tiles made by Moeding, which feels organic material and create unique piece of art in the passageway tunnel used for exhibition.

James Carpenter Design Associates Inc. had followed their fantastic design concept also by using natural clay material tiles, tailor made, to cover al front elevators elevations in the project. Under JCDA request Moeding had studied, created and produced unique polished grey material samples which had been accepted successfully, followed by production of unique grey polished Longoton® 350mm width x3000mm height tiles.  James Carpenter request was to feel the essence of the material, to see and feel the material formation come out of the tiles, as creation of beauty and love for the clay which had been connected to human life for centuries had been fulfilled.

Moeding Keramikfassaden Gmbh and for me Zeev Matar personally The Israel renewal project was of a great professional satisfaction being honored to work for the project and leave a piece of stat of art products to become eternal part of The Israel Museum.