The Bloomfield Science Museum is situated opposite the Givat Ram Campus of the Hebrew University, and the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament) in central Jerusalem. It is and was the first interactive science museum of its kind built in the country. Envisaged originally as a center, over time - and with the input of leading scientists - it evolved into what today is a prized museum facility.
As well as a wide number of ongoing exhibits, the museum boasts a Science Garden, Activity Rooms, Workshops, a Discovery Centre, a Professional resources center, and Research Labs. The museum receives around 200,000 visitors per year and supports a number of educational projects. Considered to be a place for ‘learning with a twist’ it encourages both children and adults to touch, activate, get involved, and - most importantly - have fun whilst learning.
History of the Museum
The museum was first opened to the public in its present location in 1992. Its creation is the result of its founding director, Professor Peter Hillman. Born in South Africa, after studying nuclear physics at Harvard, in 1960 he moved to Israel and joined the prestigious Weizmann Institute. By 1967, he had begun working in a second field, neurology and brain studies, subsequently becoming a Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
As early as 1980, Professor Hillman dreamed of building a science museum and the initial idea he put into practice was “The Seeing Eye – Science Workshop '' which ran for close to ten years at the Hebrew University. Thanks to his dedication and insight, it was a great success, and, along with support from fellow academics and the Jerusalem Foundation (as well as a generous donation from the Bloomfield family in Canada) the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem was inaugurated in 1992.
Design of the Museum
The museum is set out across several wings, and also contains a Science Garden and a spacious IMAX theatre. Its first two wings were built by the Jerusalem Foundation and today are used, in the main, as display halls for exhibits. A part of the first wing is reserved for preschool visitors. Two floors of the museum’s second wing opened to the public in 2001 and this has made possible the addition of exhibit workshop areas, an auditorium (used to display films and hold demonstrations and conferences), and a fully-equipped resource center.
Discovering Levers - exhibiting handles kids can rotate, balls to move, and demonstrating how you can move things (including humans!) with a pulley lift - using ropes or cords.
Electricity Exhibits - using rotatable mirrors, children can reflect light to solar panels and begin moving objects.
Illusions - using unusual exhibits and famous optical illusions, this kind of exhibit plays with kids’ minds, especially the ‘overlapping objects’ and ‘expanding universe.’
Why Don’t Buildings Fall? - Visitors here are given challenges and are invited to build models and work out the strength of different materials. In this way, they can understand more about basic scientific principles and how they are applied to real life.
Bicycles - which ran from 2017 to 2018, marked 200 years since the invention of the bicycle and showcased some very old models, dating back to the 1850s. Also, an entire corner was devoted to the concept of ‘folding bikes’ which is clearly a trend on the up and up. Another highlighted the bamboo bicycles of Ghana, Africa. Here, bamboo - which is light but sturdy - is used as a frame material. This kind of project is ideal for teaching children, not just about environmental sustainability but the way innovation can develop a local economy. Here’s a short video to give you more of an idea of what goes on inside the building.
Footprints of Light - focusing on new technology – light writing – using colored beams of light, visitors could cover a wall with graffiti, launch a pendulum, pedal bicycles through the streets using a light brush, and leave fish-shaped footprints that gradually fade away, ready for the next participant!
Innovations - cherry tomatoes, the Disk on Key, and the electric car were 3 of Israel’s most important inventions and this exhibition looked at the country’s technological innovation. It featured a solar power station, drip irrigation techniques, and even a robot used in surgery!
Waterworks - set in shallow pools, this exhibit traced Israel's water sources and looked at how water was treated all the way until it came out of faucets in private homes.
Da Vinci - to commemorate the 500 year anniversary of his death, in 2019 the museum held an exhibition highlighting the drawings and designs of Leonardo da Vinci, who was not just a talented painter but also an exceptional mathematician, engineer, and inventor.
Going Green - here, children had the chance to attend ecological workshops, grow a sapling using basic principles of physics, taste and smell herbs, and build a ‘flower model’ from which they can work out how water travels from its roots to its leaves. They also watched a 3D film about sea turtles, learning how these amazing creatures (over 100 million years old) migrate back to the beaches they were born in after decades, to lay eggs to preserve the next generation.
Outreach and Coexistence
The Bloomfield Science Museum believes deeply in the philosophy that every child should be exposed to science and therefore encourages visits from children from underprivileged families, as well as those with special needs. The museum is also used as a place to promote coexistence projects and supports Jewish-Arab summer camps, a science enrichment program for pre-school children from east Jerusalem, and other tolerance-building activities that are offered to around 20,000 children annually.
The Peace Labyrinth Project, in particular, has used photographic images, mirrors, games, and sounds to raise questions about childrens’ observation, communication, and decision-making. Children wind their way through a labyrinth, making observations, perceiving situations, and reaching conclusions. As they travel through, they understand that every situation in which they find themselves has multiple ‘solutions’ and the way they choose to react has consequences later down the line.
Encouraging Women in Science
Bloomfield is committed to reaching out to young girls, in order to encourage them to learn more about science, with a view to choosing careers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields. To this end, they support the Hypatia Project (Hypatia being a philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, and overcame great prejudice against her sex to contribute tremendously to her fields). The Hypatia project encourages girls, both through formal and informal education, to attend science centers and promotes gender-inclusive STEM education and communication.
The Bloomfield Science Museum prides itself in being a family-friendly venue and adults and their children can sign up for guided tours on a daily basis, as well as take part in arts and crafts workshops (with a gift for everyone who participates), attend screenings of nature films in 3D and participate in interactive science demonstrations. Children can even build small structures that give them an appreciation of scientific concepts. For toddlers, there is also a sand play area available.
Tel: 02-6544888. Entrance fee: 50 NIS (children under the age of 5 enter for free). Opening hours: Sunday: Closed. Monday: 9 am to 2 pm. Tuesday: 9 am to 6 pm. Wednesday: 9 am to 2 pm. Thursday: 9 am to 2 pm. Friday: 10 am to 2 pm. Saturday: 10 am to 4 pm.
On foot: From the Jerusalem Central Bus Station it is a 2 km (approx 22 minutes) walk via Weizmann Boulevard. From the Damascus Gate, in the Old City, it is a 3.6 km walk (approx 49 minutes) through the Rehavia neighborhood, via Keren ha Kayemet St and Ruppin Street.
Bus: Take line 68 from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station and alight at HaJoint/Balfour Street. From there, it is a 4-minute walk.
Car: Depending on traffic, it should take between 10 to 20 minutes to drive to the museum from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, via Sderot HaNassi Hashishi. Free parking is available from Thursdays at 3 pm until Saturdays at 7 pm, otherwise, a fee is payable.