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Best Museums to Visit in Israel

A list of must see museums

People come to Israel for many reasons. Some come to explore the country's ancient roots; some come to experience its culture; and, some come for a religious pilgrimage. Whatever your reasons for visiting this storied country, no trip is complete without a tour of at least a few of its numerous museums. At the top of the list, though, are seven museums that we feel you simply shouldn't miss during your visit.

Haganah Museum - Tel Aviv

This museum documents the history and struggles of the Haganah movement, which used paramilitary forces to defend Israelis against Arab threats from 1878 until 1948. Located in the home of one of the movement's founders, the museum explores the important role of the Haganah during the riots of the 1920s, the Jewish Resistance Movement, and Israel's eventual independence from Britain.

The story of the Haganah is told through exhibits, artifacts, and thought-provoking videos that depict the life of a fictitious Haganah member.

Yad Vashem - Jerusalem

Located on the western slope of Jerusalem's Mount of Remembrance, Yad Vashem is a sprawling and beautiful complex that consists of several different sectors, including the Holocaust History Museum, the Children's Memorial, the Museum of Holocaust Art and the International School for Holocaust Studies.

Yad Vashem is dedicated to providing a sobering, thoughtful, and educational look into the Holocaust. The museum recounts stories from survivors and displays hundreds of Holocaust documents and artifacts, all in an effort to help piece together this dark time in history, and make sure it is always remembered. It is a must visit in any tour of Israel.

Israel Museum - Jerusalem

Located in Jerusalem, the Israel Museum is one of the country's most comprehensive art and cultural centers, and is one of the world's most respected museums. The museum boasts a collection of nearly 500,000 artifacts, which span centuries and depict the history and culture of Israel in full detail.

One of the most exceptional parts of the Israel Museum is the Shrine of the Book. This building's curious domed top makes it immediately recognizable, but its true claim to fame is the fact that it houses the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The museum also features the Judaica Wing, which hosts a stunning collection of Jewish artifacts from around the world, and the 20-acre Billy Rose Garden, which displays over 100 modern and classical sculptures by renowned artists.

Palmach Museum - Ramat Aviv

The founding of the state of Israel is one of the most significant and fascinating events in the country's recent history. The Palmach Museum is dedicated to giving visitors a window into this defining point in time, and to highlighting the Palmach's role in the incredible transition.

Part of the Haganah movement, the Palmach were an elite, underground group of highly-trained commandos who carried out sabotage strikes against the Nazis, defended Israel against Arab occupation, and fought the British in the War for Independence, which allowed for the arrival and settlement of illegal Jewish immigrants.

The museum takes visitors on a multi-media tour through several different chambers, each of which shows a different aspect of the Palmach through its seven short, yet significant years of existence.

Eretz Israel Museum -- Tel Aviv

Established in 1953, Tel Aviv's Eretz Israel Museum offers a fascinating and comprehensive display of archaeological, anthropological and historical Israeli artifacts. The complex features several pavilions, each dedicated to a different medium. One of the museum's most interesting exhibits is The Man and His Work, which offers life displays of ancient artisanal craft-making.

Design Museum -- Holon

Designed by internationally acclaimed architect Ron Arad, Holon's Design Museum has quickly made a place for itself on the world's stage as a leading museum of design and contemporary culture. The building's striking modern fa├žade is worth seeing in and of itself, but the exhibits within are a fascinating find for anyone who enjoys design. The museum features four continuums: historical design, commissioned works, contemporary design, and academic projects. Museum artifacts span the design spectrum, from jewelry, to textiles, to furniture.

Museum of Islamic Art - Jerusalem

Originally built by the Knight's Templar, this museum now contains one of the world's most intriguing and comprehensive collections of Islamic art. It is also home to a unique collection of antique Islamic timepieces. The museum is organized by chronology and geography, so it is easy to follow the artifacts through time and across different places.

More Stories By David Ben-Sira

David Ben-Sira knows every trail and every stone in Israel. A passionate traveler, full time tour guide at Kenes Tours and part time history teacher.