March 23, 2012
We are thrilled and grateful to tell you that the William Davidson Foundation recently approved a very generous grant for the establishment of the East Hall Exhibition and Education Gallery in the Ethan and Marla Davidson Center for Exhibitions and Virtual Reconstruction in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park. The Davidson Center, which was made possible by the generosity of William (Bill) Davidson and opened to the public in 2001, became an overnight success, and is visited by hundreds of thousands of people annually.
The new East Hall of the Davidson Center will be established in a ca. 4,000 sq. ft. room dating to the Umayyad period (7th Century CE), that served as a storage room in an Umayyad palace, and is similar to the rooms in which the Davidson Center is now located. It is a square room measuring 62 x 62 ft, surrounded by 7 foot wide walls, and is adjacent to the Davidson Center.
The Israel Antiquities Authority, the pre-eminent organization in the field of Israeli and Biblical Archaeology, custodian of nearly 2 million objects and some 30,000 archaeological sites, plans to develop the new East Hall into a unique exhibition venue for permanent and changing exhibitions of important archaeological objects from excavations in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and the vicinity. Hundreds of objects of great importance have been and are discovered each year in excavations in the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and in areas surrounding the Park. Most of these objects end up in the housing center of the Israel Antiquities Authority unavailable to the general public. The creation of a new, modern and spacious exhibition gallery in the Davidson Center will afford the public a rare opportunity to view in situ – close to where these objects were discovered –the important objects that tell the story of the archaeology and history of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the surrounding area in which the Jerusalem Archaeological Park is now established. Such an exhibition gallery will greatly enhance the educational experience of visitors to the Davidson Center, in which special displays, movies about the Temple Mount and the excavation in the area, as well as a unique Virtual Reality Reconstruction of the Herodian and Umayaad Temple Mount are shown.
In addition to an exhibition gallery, the new East Hall of the Davidson Center will also include spaces which will be used for lectures, special presentations, and hands-on activities for school children. Such space is in great demand by the large numbers of school groups, tourist groups, groups of soldiers, and others who visit the Davidson Center. The East Hall will provide the ideal place for teachers, guides and IAA educators to work with small groups.
The new East Hall will become an ideal and highly desirable indoor event space, serving the area of the Jerusalem Archaeological Park and the Kotel. It will be used for small dinners, receptions and similar events, especially when such activities cannot be held outdoors due to weather conditions.
We are grateful and thankful to the William Davidson Foundation and members of its board for their generosity and most wonderful, continued support of the work of the Israel Antiquities Authority.