Israel Museum to reopen thanks to $4 million grant

The grant will be transferred soon, a representative for the museum said, and the museum will reopen shortly.

THE ISRAEL MUSEUM – to reopen. (photo credit: TIMOTHY HURSLEY)
THE ISRAEL MUSEUM – to reopen.
(photo credit: TIMOTHY HURSLEY)
The Israel Museum has received a $4 million grant that will allow it to reopen and rehire all its workers with no pay cuts.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, Prof. Ido Bruno, director of the museum, said: ""Thanks to the extraordinary mobilization of the museum's supporters in the United States who announced tonight that they will make a special donation to the Israel Museum, we are pleased to announce that this donation will help open the Israel Museum as soon as possible. I want to thank the American Friends of the Israel Museum for their uncompromising support of the Israel Museum. This is a step that expresses confidence in Israeli culture and art, and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts.”
The grant will be transferred soon, a representative for the museum said, and the museum will reopen shortly.
The museum had to shut its doors in March at the beginning of the novel coronavirus crisis restrictions.
It had to furlough about 90% of its employees, which left just 10% to do all the maintenance, conservation, restoration and other work that the museum requires even when it is not open to the public.
In an interview in June, Bruno was cautious about any plan for reopening, since he was concerned that the museum could run out of funds to pay its employees if the crisis continued.
Founded in 1965, the Israel Museum is one of the largest cultural institutions in the State of Israel and one of the leading art and archeology museums in the world. Every year, it is visited by about a million visitors from Israel and the world. The museum’s collections include about half a million items from all over the world's cultures and from all periods.
But while many believe it to be the national museum of Israel, it is not. Although it houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, contains countless archaeological gems and features many items of great Jewish and Israeli historical, cultural and artistic significance and provides educational programs for Israelis, including children, soldiers and people with special needs, it does not have any special status in terms of its budget with the government. While it does get some governmental support – Bruno said that between 12% and 18% of its budget comes from the government – it is mostly financed through donations (about 45%-50%). Ticket sales account for the rest of the museum’s income, so the abrupt cessation of tourism brought about by the virus hit it very hard, since it is a stop on the itinerary of nearly every tourist to Israel.
In June, Bruno spoke about possibly reopening only in 2021 and only after tourism resumed at full force. But thanks to this grant, Israelis will once again be able to enjoy the many treasures of the Israel Museum.