This morning (Wednesday), President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu toured the Israel Museum.

The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts and Jewish Art and Life wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world.

Thanks to a legacy of gifts and generous support from its circle of patrons worldwide, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing the full scope of world material culture. In the summer of 2010, a three-year renovation, upgrade and expansion initiative, the largest of its kind in the history of the Museum, was completed.

The Museum now spreads over almost 20 acres.

The presidential delegation visited specifically the permanent Shrine of the Book exhibition.

Built in 1965, the Shrine of the Book was commissioned for the preservation and permanent display the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are among the Museum’s most important exhibits and among the most important archaeological finds ever. Its holdings include eight of the most complete scrolls, among them the Great Isaiah Scroll as well as one of the most historically important Hebrew manuscript Bibles – the Aleppo Codex from the 10th century CE. Designed by architects Frederick Kiesler and Armand Bartos, the Shrine is considered a masterwork of modern architecture and an international landmark.

Adjacent to the Shrine is one of the Museum’s more recent additions: A model of Second Temple-era Jerusalem that reconstructs the topographical and architectural characteristics of the city from 66 CE.

Photos: Flash 90