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  • Middle East
  • Archaeological Museums
  • 2000-2009

The Israel Museum

The Shrine of the Book

Jerusalem, Israel

2004-2005

The Shrine of the Book was built in 1965 to conserve and exhibit the manuscripts of Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient and precious biblical texts that go back to between the 3rd century BC and the 1st century AD. The building, designed by American architects Bartos and Kiesler, is a milestone of modern architecture and resonates with symbolism and spirituality. Forty years after its opening, the Shrine of the Book has been restored and renovated in order to optimize the display conditions for the visitor and bring the security and conservation technologies up to modern standards for objects of this value.

Building project: Armand Bartos and Frederick Kiesler

Exhibition design: Rachel Lev, Jerusalem

The challenge

Goppion had to deal with three main issues: security, conservation, and sensitivity to the original design. The cases had to allow the artifacts to be quickly removed in case of emergency yet provide top level physical security at all times. Microclimate control and lighting engineering had to meet exacting performance specifications to perfectly conserve delicate manuscripts of parchment, papyrus, leather and copper. And Goppion had to meet these needs while respecting the landmark form of the original project from the 1960s.

The solution

The Laboratorio Museotecnico worked on all aspects of the design and construction of the display cases, which had to be capable of maintaining a completely airtight seal to control environmental conditions and maximize security. Opening systems were designed so a single operator could easily manage them. Goppion was committed to respecting the gallery’s original design throughout the definition and engineering phases of the project. The built-in display cases in the gallery are thus reminiscent of the original furnishings - only the front, consisting of a large glass door back-painted with rounded corners, is visible.

Project data

Exhibition area: 520 m2; exhibition units: 32; length of the exhibit fronts: 35 m