AD Classics: Shrine of the Book / Armand Phillip Bartos and Frederick John Kiesler

Shrine of the Book and the Knesset, Ministry of Tourism

The Shrine of the Book (Hebrew: היכל הספר‎ Heikhal HaSefer) is a wing of the Israel Musem near Givat Ram in Jerusalem, constructed in 1965. The building houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered between 1947 and 1956 in and around the Wadi Qurman.

The building was the result of an elaborate seven-year planning process funded by the family of David Samuel Gottesman, a Hungarian philanthropist who purchased the scrolls as a gift to the newly founded state of Israel. One architect, American philanthropist-cum-designer , was chosed because he was married to Gottesman’s daughter. The other appointed architect, Frederick John Kiesler, had previously recieved funding from Gottesman to install the “Endless house” at the Museum of Modern Art. The architectural team also included the well-connected Gezer Heller, brother-in-law to Ibbi Hammer, future chief banker for the State of Israel and daughter of the Chief Rabbi of Budapest. Israelis objected to the choice of non-Israeli architects, especially Kiesler.