Technology at Israel Museums

The Google Art Project spent months mapping the Israel Museum with cameras mounted atop bicycles and photographing 520 objects, artifacts and artwork from the Museum’s collection. The outcome is an online compilation of high-resolution images accessible over the Internet and a virtual tour of the museum using Google’s Street technology. The Israel Museum was among 151 museums in 40 countries taking part in the second phase of the project. Currently more than 30,000 high-resolution objects from museums around the world are available for viewing and items can be found by various keywords, location, artist, collections, etc.

Archaeological items included are the only dedicatory inscription mentioning Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea in the time of Jesus found at Caesarea, the oldest Biblical text, Priestly Blessing from Numbers 6:23 on silver amulet found in tomb at Ketef Hinnom in Jerusalem (you can read my blog post at https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2011/03/16/ketef-hinnom-silver-amulet/ ) and Theodotus synagogue inscription in Greek found near the Temple Mount. There is also artwork, for example, the triptych Gates of Jerusalem by Mordecai Ardon (you can read my blog post on the Ardon Windows at https://israeltours.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/ardon-windows-isaiah-vision-peace/).

The Google Art Project creates images larger than 1 billion pixels in size, the zoom-in feature allows viewers to get inside cracks in the parchment and other details that are not visible to the naked eye – a really fascinating collection of treasures worth exploring. Kudos to the Israel Museum for making these images available.

The project follows last year’s collaboration with Google to make the famed Dead Sea Scrolls accessible in high resolution on the Internet. When announced the site drew a million viewers within the first few days. Five of the Scrolls, including the Great Isaiah Scroll 1QIsaone of the original seven Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran in 1947 are viewable at http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah.

Google has also partnered with Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, to make its photographs and documents searchable on the Internet.

“Mendel takes out his camera. No more flowers, clouds, natures, stills or landscapes. Amid the horror all around him he has found his destiny: to photograph and leave behind a testimony for all generations about the great tragedy unfolding before his eyes.”

Mendel Grossman’s photos constitute a small portion of the historical photos in Yad Vashem’s collection. The project will facilitate preservation of and access to the world’s largest historical collection on the Holocaust. Google implemented experimental optical character recognition (OCR) technology to carry out this project, making previously difficult to locate documents now searchable and discoverable online. As of today, 130,000 photos from Yad Vashem’s archive, the largest of its kind in the world, are viewable in full resolution online. The collections are visible at http://collections.yadvashem.org/photosarchive/en-us/photos.html. This is a first step towards bringing the vast Yad Vashem archive online over time.

Yad Vashem has also launched a YouTube channel to showcase a series of videos of Holocaust survivor testimonials. The YouTube channel is available at www.youtube.com/yadvashem. There is also a YouTube channel with more than 400 hours of original video footage from the landmark 1961 Jerusalem trial of Nazi mastermind Adolf Eichmann at http://www.youtube.com/user/EichmannTrialEN.

If you know of other technology projects that are being developed in Israel please share by leaving a comment about them. If you peruse the images leave a comment here of your impression.

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5 thoughts on “Technology at Israel Museums

  1. Shmuel Browns Post author

    From June 5-7, 2012 an international team of scholars organized by the YU Center for Israel Studies assembled at the Arch of Titus (constructed 81CE) in Rome and scanned its bas reliefs to search for signs of their original polychromy. The plan is to reconstruct the reliefs digitally, including their colored surfaces. Of special interest is the relief showing sacred vessels from the Jerusalem Temple, the seven-branched menorah and the table of the showbread. For the full article see http://yu.edu/cis/activities/arch-of-titus/

    Reply
  2. Shmuel Browns Post author

    Yesterday Israel Antiquities Authority and Google announced that 5,000 Dead Sea Scroll fragments found in Cave 4 at Qumran have been digitized at high resolution and are now available. These include fragments containing the Ten Commandments and sections of Genesis, that recount the first three days of creation. Check out the excellent website at http://www.deadseascrolls.org.il
    https://israeltours.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/scrollery-room-at-rockefeller-museum.jpg?w=960
    Amazing since for years these fragments were at the Rockefeller museum, only accessible to a few scholars and now they are viewable from the comfort of home.

    Reply
  3. Pingback: Site Map | Israel Tours | Israel Tour Guide

  4. Shmuel Browns Post author

    Archaeological archive of Israel (administered by Israel Antiquities Authority), data on all the activity of the archeological entities in Israel is being computerized and will go online in the coming days. Tens of thousands of documents, photographs, maps and plans of Akko and Jerusalem from 1919-1948 are already available for viewing online…

    For full article click http://www.antiquities.org.il/article_Item_eng.asp?sec_id=25&subj_id=240&id=1979&module_id=#as

    Link to archive is http://www.iaa-archives.org.il

    Reply
  5. Shmuel Browns Post author

    The Vatican has announced that it plans to digitize 82,000 manuscripts, 40 million pages of text that reside in its Apostolic Library. The initial four-year project will digitize three
    thousand manuscripts that will be made available on its website.

    Reply

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