The Museum of Jewish Heritage is situated in the city of Modiin, in the center of Israel. It sits on a hillside, overlooking a historical site where the first settlements of the Maccabees were located, southwest of the city. The museum will showcase Jewish history, culture and heritage to a wide spectrum of Israeli society.
The idea underlying the form of the building stems from a combination of two abstract elements of Jewish life: The cyclic-circular element expressed in repetitive, non-changing rituals, embedded in the realm of time and a linear upward element as expressed in the personal, moral, and spiritual growth and development embedded in the realm of the psyche. These two elements, once combined, give birth to the form of the spiral, the shape that animates the form, flow, and movement of the museum.
The mouth of the spiral, the entrance to the museum is wide and inviting, containing a conference hall, restaurant, and souvenir shop. The museum leads the visitors in a circular motion through the different exhibition spaces ending in a Library and auditorium on the bottom floor. In designing the museum attention was given to environmental values, maintaining thermal mass and the extensive use of outdoor areas, creating a unique landscape while allowing the ascent and use of the upper roof for public gatherings.
The design of the museum is a gentle play between opaqueness and transparency, between the materiality of hard stone and soft nature, between looking inward into the spiral’s eye and looking outward and upwards into the landscape and sky, between modesty and monumentality.