August 17, 2012
By Edward Rothstein | The New York Times
JERUSALEM — The world’s great national museums are not modest places. Whether imperial in origin (as in Vienna) or popular in intention (in London), whether aristocratic in tone (in St. Petersburg) or eagerly embracing multitudes (our own Smithsonians), they reflect the vision of the countries that created them. In galleries we can discern how a nation thinks about itself and its place in the world by seeing what it values and how it tells its stories.
The Israel Museum adds another kind of intricacy to this reflection, because it is, like its nation, so young, and because the story it tells, also like that of its nation, is so old.
Two years ago the museum’s director, James S. Snyder, unveiled the result of what he called a “renewal.” It was a $100 million, three-year project: a reconsideration of the museum’s collections, with its nearly 500,000 objects; a doubling of the exhibition space on its 20-acre campus; and an expansion of its structures, with new galleries and public spaces. While I am a little late to the party and have only a vague recollection of the less structured and more compressed energy of the museum’s original incarnation some 30 years ago, the current effect is exhilarating. Read More...