Bible Lands Museum Exhibit of Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome

From May 11, 1994 to August 30, 1994, Vaults of Memory: Jewish and Christian Imagery in the Catacombs of Rome was on display in the Bible Lands Museum in  Jerusalem. The show coincided with the second anniversary of the museum, cited as Jerusalem's newest and biggest private museum of ancient artifacts. 

The show was a great success for the Society and the Museum. Sandy Sheiber-McNair and Douglas McNair were in Jerusalem and represented the ICS at the opening. They were also given a special preview of the exhibit prior to the official opening. During the opening events, Sandy was asked by Batya Borowski, Director of the Museum, to say a few words on behalf of the ICS. In her speech, Sandy communicated the ICS's delight at realizing Estelle Brettman's dream of having the show travel to Jerusalem. 

Special thanks go to ICS Board Members Jonathan Kagan and Nitza Rosovsky, who helped to arrange for the exhibit to appear in Jerusalem. Mrs. Rosovsky, as "guest curator", coordinated the redesign and installation of exhibit components with museum directors and staff. The handsome installation was designed by Clifford La Fontaine, a New York designer, who refurbished the exhibit with new mountings. The images were clustered on large panels, which helped the exhibit flow more easily and maintained unity within thematic sections. The beautiful lighting also greatly enhanced ease of viewing. Many of the panels were cleverly arranged in series along the walls of a narrow corridor, recalling the home of the original catacomb paintings. The text-panels and captions for the exhibit were bilingual, with Hebrew translations supplementing the English version. A Hebrew catalog was also prepared.

The Bible Lands Museum, located between the Israel Museum and Hebrew University, was built on land donated by the state of Israel. The outstanding collections of more than 2,000 Bible-related artifacts were the gifts of the founders and museum directors, Dr. Elie and Mrs. Batya Borowski. The collections include cylinder and scaraboid seals, figurines, pottery, ivories, votive vessels, sarcophagi, and mosaics, covering over six millennia, from 6000 BCE to 600 CE. The twenty permanent galleries of the museu, designed by Clifford La Fontaine, are arranged chronologically to present a cross-section of time through the Ancient Near East.

Photos courtesy of Sandra Sheiber-McNair and Douglas McNair.