Heaven and earth

Ann Goldberg moves from archaeology, via a postal museum to outer space, all in one park

November 9, 2010
Fire engine, donated by New York in 1947 and used b y Tel Aviv Fire Brigade until 1961

Fire engine, donated by New York in 1947 and used b y Tel Aviv Fire Brigade until 1961

Two things make the Eretz Israel Museum stand out from all the other museums.

The first is that it is built around an archaeological dig, Tel Qasile, an ancient port from the 12th century BCE. This dig, which is considered one of the most important in the entire Tel Aviv area, was ongoing for almost 50 years and large sections of the Philistine port were unearthed, including sections of their four-room homes and layers of their temples. It was razed to the ground at one point, but rebuilt and was obviously a religious centre for the area.

Surrounding this dig are individual permanent pavillions making up the Museum Park, each one covering an entirely different aspect of Israel's history, such as ethnography, Judaica. history and culture of Israel, coins, copper mining, postal history and archaeology.

The large area of the park also allows room for a special sundial garden, with many examples of these ancient forerunners of our Swatches and digital timepieces, as well as an area devoted to the thriving olive oil industry and yet another with large samples of ancient mosaic floorings discovered around the country.

Another section is Artisan's Lane, where you can see examples of various ancient crafts, with all their authentic materials and tools, while the adjacent bread courtyard shows the cultivation and processing of grain.

An old fire engine, donated by the city of New York in 1947 and used by the Tel Aviv Fire Brigade until August 1961, is also housed here.

The other innovation is the newly upgraded planetarium, said to be one of the most sophisticated in the world.

The old planetarium was something of a disappointment to most visitors, but that has all changed now, according to Zachi Becker, deputy managing director of the museum.

As visitors sit in the their seats on the revolving platform (the only one of its kind in any planetarium in the world) they take off into outer space through an incredible film, produced by the National Space Centre in Leicester. You are introduced to the infinite universe, with its millions of changing stars, each one completely different from its neighbour. Find out about the oldest, the newest - and even those stars which are still unborn.

While in your seat you'll travel millions of light years' distance to the furthest corner of the solar system and learn about the Milky Way, the Hubble Telescope, the Black Hole and the sun's energy.

Photographs from satellites and Voyager 2 will even show you the formation of new planets.

On a more personal level, the entrance to the new planetarium has a memorial to Ilan Ramon, the Israeli astronaut who died in 2003 on the NASA space shuttle Columbia.

There is a film about his life and achievements and alongside are up-to-date photos from space, received daily from NASA, USA.

Call 00 972 3 641 5244, to book an out-of-this-world-tour.

Last updated: 3:20pm, November 9 2010