Israel Museum starts $80 million renewal project

The Israel Museum is launching an $80 million campus renewal project aimed at enhancing visitors' experience, the museum announced Sunday. The project, which is being primarily funded by private donors, is the most comprehensive initiative undertaken by the museum since it opened its doors in 1965, and was inspired by the desire to enhance visitors' services on a campus that has grown tenfold over the past four decades. The nearly three-year project will create new entrance facilities, an enclosed route of passage from the front of the campus to a relocated main entrance hall with access to all of the museum's curatorial collection wings, reorganized and expanded collection galleries and newly centralized temporary exhibition space. The project, which is expected to be completed by May 2010 - in time for the museum's 45th anniversary - includes over 7,500 square meters of new construction, while 18,500 square meters of gallery space will be renewed and expanded within the museum's existing 45,000-square-meters architectural envelope. "This is not $80 million just for renovation; it will be a transforming renewal of the entire campus," said James S. Snyder, the museum director, in a press briefing. He added that the renewal project, which is being carried out by New York- and Tel Aviv-based designers and architects, was meant to reinforce the existing campus and to build on what already existed. The funding for the $80m. project includes $70m. from 16 international and local museum donors and $10m. in government support, Snyder said. The campus renewal project gets under way on Monday, and the museum aims to keep an active exhibition schedule throughout this transition period, although the building housing the museum's permanent exhibitions will be closed during this time. The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in Israel, and is most famed for its Dead Sea Scrolls collection housed in the Shrine of the Book, which will remain open during construction.