Jerusalem nature museum struggles to stay open

Community garden that provides activities for 12,000 people a month to appeal to stay open in its current location.

August 24, 2011 05:19
2 minute read.
CHILDREN ENJOY activities at J'lem Nature Museum

CHILDREN ENJOY activities at Jerusalem’s Nature Museum 311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

Jerusalem’s Nature Museum, a community garden that provides activities for 12,000 people a month, will appeal this week to the City Council to stay open in its current location after being threatened with possible closure earlier this summer.

The museum, a non-profit organization which has been located in an old building in the German Colony for upwards of 60 years, was discussed as the location for the new liberal arts college run by the Shalem Center, which is looking for a home within Jerusalem.

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Following a month of demonstrations, including a “protest activity day” that drew hundreds of people at the end of July, and heavy lobbying of city politicians, the museum may stay in its current location. Mayor Nir Barkat, who in the past has mentioned the Nature Museum as an option for the Shalem Center, has tentatively withdrawn that suggestion, said museum volunteer Galia Hendel.

On Thursday, supporters of the Nature Museum hope to raise the issue of the museum’s future at the monthly city council meeting, in order to get a firm answer from Barkat.

“We want to know what’s happening with nature museum,” said Hendel, who added that the museum has been struggling to get a clear answer from the city.

A municipality spokeswoman said the city was planning on opening a new nature museum in the next few years, and that one of the options was near the current Science Museum. She added that Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur, formerly of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, was in regular contact with the museum about future possibilities.

The Shalem Center also seemed to be backing down from the Nature Museum as an option.

“We decided that we wanted to build a college within the borders of the city of Jerusalem,” said Ayelet Margolin, the director of communications for Shalem. “We are working with the mayor to find a solution for that.”

Margolin noted that while the Nature Museum has been mentioned in connection with the new Shalem College in the past, the Center is not sure where the college will eventually be located.

For the first few years, Shalem plans to hold classes in their current building, which is also located in the German Colony.

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