Hebrew Bible Art Center

Project Proposal

Management in the Making:


Aaron Braunstein,  USFSO (ret.)

Prospective Executive Director

Yoni Shapira, CEO, Landmark Heritage Services, Ltd.

Advisory Board

Reuven Rivelis, businessman, Liaison for China

Prof, Emeritus of Bible, Alexander Rofè, HUJI

Yoni Shapira, CEO, Landmark Heritage Services, Ltd.

Dr. J.W.M. Timmermans, Chairman, Jheronimus Bosch Foundation, The Netherlands

L.Magnes Prof. Emeritus of Bible, Emanuel Tov, HUJI

Herman J. Weyers, Director, Vermeer Art Center, Delft, The Netherlands;

Mission Statement:

To create in Jerusalem, Israel, an international Hebrew Bible Art Center (HBAC) which will bring together, display and communicate masterpiece works of art on Hebrew Bible sagas in the form of high quality photographic reproductions, works that are otherwise spread in multiple museums around the world.

And by so doing, to inform and inspire generation after generation in Israel and from all nations of the world who will increasingly flock to Jerusalem.  For the average Israeli, especially the country’s youth, to learn, understand and grow in pride with humility from witnessing the impact that his or her 4,000 year-old God-given civilization has had on the world.  For the average tourist, whether on pilgrimage or not, to realize that Jewish mission to the nations is radiant again from Zion after 2,000 years -- radiant through the eyes of mostly non-Jewish artists down through the ages -- and to bring the glorious image of their works back to their spiritual home in Zion, the focal point of three continents.

Like the Jewish people themselves, the far-flung dispersion of these works of art has not allowed a powerful cumulative effect to operate in the hearts and minds of all those who could only have seen them individually and not by subject and message.

We look to the day when those moved by their HBAC visit will return home with new inspiration and dedication to carry the eternal messages of the Hebrew Bible for today to all those they encounter.  HBAC can thus be a beacon of peace for understanding first principles for living, rather than dying, in the turbulent Middle East and beyond.

Target Audiences:

The target audiences will be all those interested in the Bible and/or Art. Those who live in Israel, whether Jew, Christian or Moslem, and those who come as tourists or as pilgrims will have an opportunity to witness and learn about the impact of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish Civilization on the nations through art to this very day and beyond.

Groups, especially of school-age youth, will be able to come with their teachers to witness the glory of the world’s adoption of the Hebrew Bible over centuries in every culture – a true light to the nations.

The Artists and Their Works:

The artists whose works will be displayed will be Jews and non-Jews, Christians, Moslems and others from all historic periods of painting, drawing and etching.  The only criterion for for selection of art works to be displayed will be that they be representations of epics in the Hebrew Bible [Tanakh – The Five Books of Moses (Torah), The Prophets and The Writings] from Genesis to Chronicles.  The Christian Greek Bible (The New Testament) and the Koran, sacred works that follow the Hebrew Bible chronologically, will be the subject of HBAC research as they refer to Hebrew Bible epics and their interpretation.  This will provide for analysis and display of multiple faith traditions related to the Hebrew Bible.  For all the hundreds of translations of the Bible, the fountainhead remains Hebrew even as a reference source for the Greek translations.

The greatest example of such artists, even though only one of many to be tapped by HBAC, is, of course, the 17th Century Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn, who created hundreds of works of art inspired by stories from the Hebrew Bible. Most of these works are drawings and etchings. In addition, there are dozens of paintings on Hebrew Biblical themes:  stories from Genesis, especially about the patriarchs; unique individuals from the Bible: Samson, Ruth, Saul, David, Esther, Daniel, etc.  A comprehensive illustrative description of Rembrandt’s extensive work on the Hebrew Bible will be provided.

And yet for all his achievement, Rembrandt is but one of a multitude of such renowned artists from multiple countries and cultures:

Rubens, Caravaggio, Chagal, Domenichino, Durer, Dali, Masaccio, Memling, Brulloff, Blake, Tintoretto, Riviere, Castagno, Degas, van Somer, Angeli, Savold, Guercino, Ricci, Corot, Tissot, Claude Lorraine, Gaugin, Rossetti, Bonnet, Lievens, Brown, Velazquez, Furini, van Leyden, Gentleschi, Poussin, Bellini, Hicks, Rafael, Hilton, Solimena, Coypel, Millet, Moreau, Titian, Cranach, Solomon, van Dyck, Mount, Rosa, West, Pointer, Michelangelo, van Eyck.

To these, mostly classical artists, will be added the many American, Canadian, Russian, Eastern European, Australian, Latin American and non-Western master painters who have presented Hebrew Bible epics in their works.

Prospective Cooperating Museums and their Treasures

Art masterpieces by these artists are located in major museums around the world and will be acknowledged by HBAC for all those who will want to visit the originals thereby bringing more people to the cooperating museums.  Many will visit museums right at home after their experience at the HBAC in Jerusalem.

Among the internationally-recognized museums/cities where the works of the above artists are exhibited are the following:

Uffizi, Hermitage, Caen, Prado, Vatican, Stuttgart, Louvre, Dresden, Moscow, Tate, Courtauld, Venice, Liverpool, London, Washington, D.C., Cambridge, Rome, Nice, New York Met, Edinburgh, Berlin, Frankfurt, Ottawa, Sarasota, Dresden, Besancon, Philadelphia, Amsterdam, Boston, Weimar, Cincinnati, the Hague, Connecticut, Sydney. Gent, Vienna.

Be it admitted that the most modern reproduction technology will make it very difficult to see the difference between the copy and the original. Nonetheless, the HBAC facsimile will be suitably so indicated as such.

The Display:

The paintings will be arranged, not by artist, but by consecutive chapter and verse from the Bible.  The Center will be a magnet for visitors from Israel and around the world permitting study of different artistic and philosophical approaches to each Biblical story.

The Center will also serve an interfaith objective by suitably displaying reproductions of Islamic masterpiece art based on Koranic verses that are parallel to those found in the Bible. As such, HBAC will look to work in cooperation with the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem.

Russian art under the Czars and since the fall of the Soviet Union will also be displayed.

The HBAC Board and its Executive Director, under the expert guidance of its Curator, will decide whether and how to feature, if at all, such art achievements as iconography and Bible illuminations.

Non-Western Biblical Art both Christian and Moslem will also be a major focus for comparison and study.  The Board Liaison for China will develop linkages to traditional-style Chinese art that has dealt with Biblical topics over hundreds of years.  Persian and Afghanistan art will also be an area for exploration.

Traditional and other African art will have its place of honor at the Center, including the sous-verre paintings of Senegal.

Development – Initial Feasibility Study with Preliminary Business Plan

A suitable Location will be identified with the Mayor of Jerusalem and complementary funds mobilized with the help of the Jerusalem Foundation, other institutions and major donors.

A special opportunity already exists to establish HBAC directly on Mount Zion, adjacent to the entrance to the Old City that has been a part of the State of Israel since its creation in 1948. Negotiations can begin as soon as possible for collaborative procurement of a unique site there, such as the David’s Harp location, near the Tomb of King David with the room of the Last Supper above and near the Benedictine Dormition Abbey.  The establishment of a Hebrew Bible institution there can hope to further strengthen the healthy ecumenism so needed in our world. An economic analysis of such procurement is available.

Just recently, the Israeli government has approved the installation of a major cable car system. It will run from the Jerusalem’s first station to Mount Zion and on to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount – by completion in 2021, with forty cars carrying 3,000 passengers an hour (130,000 visitors a week).  Such major facilitation of traffic flow to and through Mount Zion will make that historic site a highly valued economic property in addition to its unmatched spiritual importance as a unique Via Gloria for the city.

A first proposal to assist in creation and implementation of HBAC has been submitted by Landmark Heritage Services, Ltd of Jerusalem, Israel.  It offers to complete the necessary Initial Feasibility Study with Preliminary Business Plan subject to a letter of intent to the whole Project and seed money for the Study’s realization.

LHS has been an active participant in the creation of Mini Israel at the approaches to Jerusalem and of Gulliver’s World in New York.  The full LHS Proposal for the entire HBAC Project is available.  It covers the following:

Full business plan, proof of concept, detailed property location, initial architectural rendering, market analysis, marketing plan, technological presentation tools, development costs, operating costs, financial feasibility, etc.

Existing Creative Models for Art Display:

At least two are already functioning in Holland specifically for facsimile display:

  • The Jheronimus Bosch Art Center in ‘s-Hertogenbosch City
  • The Johannes Vermeer Center in Delft City

The director of each of these centers has gratefully joined the HBAC Advisory Board. Their experience, technical expertise, and international contacts will be sought for realization of this Project as a great benefit for their own international exposure.

They are:  Mssrs. Herman Weyers and Johannes Timmermans (bios available).

Additionally, the experiences of other institutions will be used, such as the Rembrandt House Museum.  The Rembrandt House, located in the former mostly Jewish Quarter of Amsterdam, has a unique focus on art that can be of service in HBAC development and for its own promotion.

The Growing World of Bible Museums – a large reservoir for cooperation and collaboration:

Indeed, Bible Museums proliferate, especially in America:

New York, Dallas, and especially Washington, D.C., where the extensive and unique Museum of the Bible opens in November 2017.  None of these, however, present the Bible through a permanent exhibit of multiple fine art masterpiece reproductions and in comprehensive Biblical sequence; a display where art itself becomes a parallel and complementary subject of appreciation, study and inquiry.

Even more so, while there is the extensive Israel Museum and also the unique Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem geared to Middle East archeology, until now there is no specifically Bible art museum in the Land of the Bible as herein presented.

HBAC Art Display:

We imagine a four-meter or smaller display area for each Biblical epic providing a high impact visual space.  Three or four master art painting/etching facsimiles created by different renowned artists will be selected for each topical display from a huge archive of images. It is planned that these facsimiles will frame a large computer screen on each display wall/panel that will display in loop other related master paintings.

Each display area will headline the relevant scriptural verse, as appropriate: Hebrew (Tanakh), English (King James Version) and Arabic (Koran).

The area will identify each art piece by title, artist, museum location and year.  A description of each art piece and artist will also be included.

The latest hi-tech visual achievements will be employed including hologram or other projection of major sculptures of Biblical heroes in more open spaces – David, Moses, the Prophets, etc. -- including statues and reliefs from various US buildings in Washington, D.C.

As a center devoted to the arts, HBAC will also provide a space to listen to musical renditions of Hebrew Bible music and songs: gospels, songs about Jerusalem, Babylonian Exile, Let My People Go, opera pieces (Nabucco, etc) et al.  Harp music will also be featured. Lyrics can be projected on the walls of the space as the music fills the air.

Not to be forgotten, Bible-related novels will also be displayed, with short passages also projected (e.g. Daniel Deronda, Prelude to Delilah).

HBAC will also titillate the other senses with aromas from the Land of Israel and the touch of parchment, etc.

Activities and Outreach:

  • Increase awareness of the influence of the Hebrew Bible on world art and civilization. No other theme has so positively influenced world reflection and art as has the Bible.

  • Advance research on the differences among masterpieces with regard to the specific Biblical theme being portrayed as well as the art employed. The writing of curriculum papers can be encouraged for use by school boards, whether for religious or non-religious education.

  • Promote many educational opportunities through periodic seminars on Biblical themes and relevant thematic art masterpieces.  For example, reflection on the varying interpretations given to (1) Abraham’s assertion of unity and meaning in the universe, (2) the Binding of Isaac as a metaphor for the prohibition of human blood sacrifice, which has reared its vile head again in our own day, and (3) depictions of the prophet and lawgiver Moses and his liberating achievements in faith, human dignity and freedom, just to mention a few.  With the help of the relevant art works, such epics can be discussed in a non-sectarian manner without necessary commitment to any particular devotion. The great masters may have well understood this in their own ways.

  • Encourage the creation of works of art today on themes from the Hebrew Bible. In cooperation with the Mishkenot Sha’ananim (“Abodes of Peace”) complex facing Mount Zion, artists so interested can be encouraged to sojourn in Jerusalem for reflection and artistic endeavor.  Their creations, after jury selection, can be exhibited in HBAC. Mishkenot Sha’ananim is an upscale guesthouse for internationally acclaimed authors, artists and musicians invited to visit Israel.  We thus expect to put HBAC on the agenda of UNESCO … big time.

The Gala HBAC Opening

The Ambassadors to Israel from all those countries represented by the featured artists as well as the cooperating museums will be invited to the HBAC’s Gala Opening.

Arrangements will have been made before hand with all participating countries for ongoing advice and promotion in a framework of international cooperation and mutual benefit.

The Museum Shop:

In order to provide life-long Bible-related home and family centered gifts as well as to help finance the Art Center’s operating costs, HBAC will mount a unique Bible Art Shop staffed by volunteers.

A number of specialty items will be developed for the Project, such as the Bible Art Stamp Book to help wean computer-intoxicated youth toward a peace-engendering hobby of vast educational and inspirational value.

It is estimated from the experience of other museum shops that up to 30% of operating expenses can be generated by such a shop.

"From out of Zion shall go forth Knowledge and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem" 

(Isaiah 2:3)