This is a museum for people who appreciate beauty. Just next to the Israel Museum, the Bible Lands Museum concentrates on archaeological treasures from Middle Eastern areas beyond the land of Israel. It was founded by Dr. and Mrs. Elie Borowski, who donated their world-famous collection of ancient Near Eastern artifacts. In the words of Dr. Borowski, a noted Near Eastern scholar and consultant to museums, “Each of the objects [in the museum] has its time in history, its location in space, its meaning in religion and daily life, and last but not least, its beauty and artistry.”
The collection’s treasures include priceless Assyrian ivories from Nimrud (ca. 800 B.C.), with an iconic, delicately carved winged griffin grazing on foliage; the A.D. 4th-century sarcophagus of Julia Latronilla, decorated with elaborately sculpted depictions of scenes from the life of Jesus (among the earliest known representations of Jesus); and more simple, charming objects, such as an Egyptian cosmetics container in the shape of a swimming girl (ca. 1550 B.C.). The Bible Lands Museum also houses mysterious objects, like a 1st-century A.D. Roman painted linen shroud with the ethereal image of a woman covering its length (think: the controversial Holy Shroud of Turin). A fascinating gallery is devoted to cylinder seals and scarabs; lively, kid-friendly computer/video programs explore these minute works of art and offer detailed explanations. There are also constant visiting exhibitions.
Tip: The museum hosts a wonderful program of Saturday evening classical and popular concerts (including wine and cheese). Concerts begin at 9:30pm, but the museum opens at 8:30pm for selected visiting. For programs, check the website.