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  • Talma Gotteiner

Tower of David Museum: A Photographic Journey to Temple Mount

Hi there,

The Temple Mount, or as it is referred to in Arabic, al-Haram al-Sharif, is a most striking and visible symbol on the Jerusalem Old City skyline, with the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque at its center. The rectangular complex is one-sixth of the area of Jerusalem’s Old City, about 150,000 square meters. For more than 3000 years the Mount has been holy to hundreds of millions of people all over the world, stirring strong religious, political and moral feelings and spurring research in the fields of history, archaeology and culture. I am happy to share with you information about The Mount, a new photographic exhibition at the Tower of David Museum.

WHEN: Opens April 2019 - Closes October 2019

THE MOUNT A Photographic Journey to Temple Mount

Curator: Dr. Shimon Lev Assistant Curator: Yael Brandt





Tower of David Museum: A Photographic Journey to Temple Mount

Above: With curator Dr. Shimon Lev

The Mount, offers a discerning look at the Temple Mount complex/al-Haram al-Sharif through the lens of the camera from the beginning of photography until our time (1839 - 2018). The exhibition presents hundreds of photographs including iconic ones that are now ingrained in the collective memory together with rare photographs many of which have been released especially for the exhibition.

Beginning in 1839, the same year that the camera was invented, first attempts were made to photograph the Mount. From then until today, this is possibly the most photographed site in Jerusalem: photographers, researchers, curiosity-seekers, tourists, religious pilgrims, ideologues, soldiers and police as well as members of the Waqf continue to photograph the Mount and its visitors at every opportunity.

Visitors to Jerusalem and residents of the city have the same shared view when looking at Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif: a wide flat plaza with the striking golden Dome of the Rock in the center. To the south of it stands the ancient Al-Aqsa Mosque with its smaller less conspicuous grey dome. But although this may be the same view, the sentiments and collective memories that it awakens, represent the full range of emotions with regards to this unique site. For some visiting, it will be viewed simply as an important tourist site and they will marvel at the shining gold and the blues of the ceramic tiles whilst enjoying the aesthetics and architecture of the site. Others will will recall the buildings that stood in this location about 2000 years ago.

Ancient Jewish traditions hold that this is the mountain of the binding of Isaac; the holy place where the First Temple of Solomon stood; the site of the Second Temple erected by exiles returning from Babylon, renovated during the times of the Hasmonean dynasty and King Herod and destroyed in 70 CE. Ever since, it has been a focus for Jews yearning and longing to rebuild the Temple when Redemption comes.

In the Christian tradition the site is tied to the life and acts of Jesus of Nazareth and the establishment of Christianity in Jerusalem.

Tower of David Museum: A Photographic Journey to Temple Mount

With the establishment of the disciples of Mohammed, the original direction of prayer of Moslems was towards Jerusalem and al-Aqsa became known as the “first qibla”. Moslem tradition names the original al-Aqsa Mosque as the “farthest mosque”, the second mosque which was built on earth, and the mosque from which Mohammed ascended into heaven on his wondrous horse. Because of this, the place became holy in the Moslem tradition as the third holiest spot after Mecca and Medina. From then until today, with the exception of Crusader rule (1099 - 1187 C.E.), the complex has been an important Moslem center. In Arabic the Mount it is called al-Haram al-Sharif or al-Aqsa, indicating the entire complex. Judaism and Islam commonly accept the designation of the foundation stone at the center of the Mount as the “navel” of the world - the place from which the entire world was created.

Today, the complex holds some of the most architecturally beautiful buildings in the world - the Dome of the Rock which was built around the Foundation Stone, and the al-Aqsa Mosque in the southern section. Daily, one can see throngs gathering to pray; groups of tourists from around the world who listen attentively to the explanations of their guides; and even children from the Muslim Quarter playing soccer in the courtyards of the holy complex. But behind these day-to-day appearances, stands a meaningful symbol and the most important, central holy space in the Middle East, both religiously and politically.

LIVE FEED ON TO TEMPLE MOUNT/HARAM AL SHARIF There will be a live feed 24/7 showing Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif and the plaza around the Shrine of the Rock during the exhibition.

FOR THE FIRST TIME ….VIRTUAL REALITY ALLOWS VISITORS TO GO BEHIND LOCKED GATES AND CLOSED DOORS – EXPLORE PRAYERS DURING RAMADAN ON TOP OF TEMPLE MOUNT/ HARAM AL SHARIF AND ENTER THE DOME OF THE ROCK There will be two virtual reality experiences that allow visitors to the exhibition to explore parts of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif that are normally “off-limits” for anyone who is not Muslim. In the first headset, the visitor will be able to experience the prayers of Laylat Al Qader at the end of Ramadan, when Muslims mark the night the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad. In the second headset the visitor will be able to "step inside and explore" the Dome of the Rock. The experiences are played on the Oculus Go headset and produced by Holy City VR, an Israeli-Canadian partnership of Blimey (Israel) and OccupiedVR (Canada) established to offer cutting edge VR content solutions worldwide.

Tower of David Museum: A Photographic Journey to Temple Mount

Clockwise from left: A VR historic view, standing with Michal Kalef-Cohen Director of the ToD Innovation Lab, Eilat Lieber, Director and Chief Curator and a tablet demonstration by Michal Kalef-Cohen.

INTERACTIVE TABLE A special interactive table has been created for the exhibition. A touch screen top showing the Mount allows visitors to get additional information and visuals connected to different parts of the compound.

Guided tours on IZI. Travel app in English on The Mount There will be a two different guided tours available in English to be downloaded on the app –a story telling platform. The first is a guided tour of the exhibition presented by the curator Dr Shimon Lev. The second tour is a more extensive tour tracing the “establishment” of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif starting on top of King Herod’s Phasael Tower with its panoramic views of Jerusalem continuing through the Museum looking at the development of the Mount from King David to modern times.

Guided tours by Tower of David Museum guides in English Monday at 09:30 and Thursday at 13:30

Join one of the Tower of David Museum guides and explore the history of Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif as well as a guided tour within the exhibition The Mount. The guided tours are included in admission price of the museum and take place on Monday mornings at 09:30 and Thursday afternoons at 13:30. There is no need to book in advance. The tour lasts 90 minutes.

The Tower of David Museum The Tower of David Museum is located in the magnificently restored ancient citadel that has guarded the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City for hundreds, and in places for thousands of years. The permanent exhibition of the Museum explores Jerusalem’s full story. Welcoming over 500,000 visitors a year, the Tower of David is more than a world class museum; it is also a significant historical and archaeological site and a center of innovation that combines unique cultural, educational and artistic experiences with Jerusalem’s rich and diverse past.

Tower of David Museum: A Photographic Journey to Temple Mount

The Museum is open Sunday – Thursday and Saturday from 09:00 – 16:00 and on Fridays from 09:00- 14:00.

Entrance to the exhibition is included in the general admission price to the Museum and the exhibition is open during regular opening hours. For more information, you can enter their English website.

Best, Talma

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