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The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at TAU to Open July 2018
Thursday, June 21, 2018 3:41:00 PM

New museum displays thousands of items that tell the story of biodiversity in Israel and the Middle East

The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History at Tel Aviv University, housed in a unique building that resembles a treasure chest, is due to open its doors for a trial period to the wider public. The museum's collections include Israel's national natural history collections, containing over five and a half million specimens of fauna and flora that tell the story of biodiversity in Israel and the Middle East over the last few hundred years.

The five-story building covers 9,620 square meters. The exhibition spaces cover 1,700 square meters and publicly display thousands of items from the national natural history collections in themed exhibitions, permanent exhibitions and a temporary exhibition. Similarly, a parking lot offering 620 parking bays has been built beneath the new building.

The items on display include species that have become extinct in the region, including the last bear from 1916, an Asiatic cheetah from 1911 and the last crocodile from the Taninim River (all of which belong to the Schmitz collection); predatory birds; and other unique birds, including the only albatross spotted in Israel's skies.

The museum offers visitors an experience for the entire family, through diverse multimedia content, touch screens and a touch table, interactive digital animation, models that can be touched and films on nature and the life of humans in nature.

Once open, the museum will present eight permanent exhibitions, including thousands of items — some of which are rare — from the national natural history collections amassed at TAU over several decades, as well as a temporary exhibition. Visitors to the exhibitions embark upon a quest for intimacy with nature, wherein each exhibition offers exceptional observations and experiences of life and nature around us.

"I am thrilled with the upcoming opening of the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, a national research infrastructure that documents nature in our region and around the world in a unique and extraordinary way," said Prof. Joseph Klafter, TAU president. "As a part of TAU, the Museum makes the knowledge and interdisciplinary research accumulated here over many years accessible to the wider public, and I hope that it will become an important attraction for all ages, by virtue of its fascinating exhibitions that create an extraordinary experience of recreation and enjoyment."

"The opening of the Museum to the wider public in the coming weeks marks the culmination of decades of hard work with tremendous national and scientific value," said Prof. Tamar Dayan, chair of the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History. "The national natural history collections, which were scattered in storerooms around TAU, have been transferred to their permanent home and will be revealed for the first time, for the enjoyment of the wider public.

"The commitment and partnership of the Israeli Government and donors to the Museum, headed by Michael Steinhardt, led to the establishment of a unique, ground-breaking Museum that will become an important cultural attraction for thousands of families, school children, nature lovers, tourists and scientists from around the world," Dayan added. "For researchers and scientists, the Museum will be a continuing source of knowledge and discovery of the life around us in the present and in the past."

"The Museum is the largest and most active center of documentation and science in this field in Israel; this is a wonderful opportunity to offer the wider public an experience of close, intimate investigation of the biodiversity of our region, and of the rich, unique diversity amassed in the Museum over decades," said Alon Sapan, director of the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History. "The Museum's exhibitions are the result of a joint effort by the Museum's scientists, scientific curators, experiential curator and leading exhibition designers — and therefore the result is a multi-sensory experience for the visitor that creates direct intimacy, as much as possible, with nature — in a way that cannot be experienced elsewhere."

As a unique national treasure, and the first of its kind in Israel and the Middle East, the Museum is expected to host about 150,000 visitors per year and become an important educational and cultural attraction for thousands of families, school children, nature lovers, scientists and tourists from Israel and around the world. In addition, the 12 research labs operating in the museum, in different faculties of TAU, that serve 250 academic staff and students and hundreds of scientists and researchers in Israel and around the world, will be transferred to the museum building.

The establishment of the Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, at a total cost of nearly $40 million, was made possible by the vision and generous donation of Michael and Judy Steinhardt, who were joined by the Yad Hanadiv Foundation, Dan David Foundation, Ted Arison Family Foundation and other donors. The Israeli Government also joined the effort to establish the museum, through the Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC) of the Council for Higher Education, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, The Ministry of Tourism, The Ministry of Science and Technology, The Ministry of Jerusalem and Heritage, Keren Kayemet LeIsrael–Jewish National Fund and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority — active partners who provide financial and professional support to the museum.

Visit the Steinhardt Museum web site

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