Earlier this week, the Levi Eshkol Museum and Gardens officially opened to the public. Once the official residence of Israeli Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion, Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir, the newly renovated property will now function as an interactive museum memorializing Prime Minister Eshkol, as well as the new headquarters for SPNI’s Jerusalem Community Branch.
From 1950-1974, “Beit Levi Eshkol” in the Rehavia neighborhood served as the official residence of Israel’s Prime Ministers. Yad Levi Eshkol, the official fund established to memorialize Prime Minister Eshkol, and SPNI, the oldest, leading and largest environmental nonprofit organization in Israel, joined forces to renovate the abandoned structure with the goal of establishing a national museum to honor the legacy of the former Prime Minister, an outspoken champion of environmental issues and urban planning, and securing a hub for social-environmental activism in Israel’s capital.
Built in 1933 for a senior official of the British Mandate, the house became a central part of Israeli history during the State’s tumultuous post-establishment period. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol oversaw the Six Day War from the facility’s home office, and later, during Golda Meir’s tenure, the residence’s kitchen became the most famous meeting place in the history of Israeli politics – “Golda’s Kitchen Cabinet,” where she hosted her closest advisors for meetings, having prepared the coffee and cakes for them herself.
On the ground floor, an interactive exhibition narrates the fascinating life story of Prime Minister Eshkol, a luminary who helped lead the state during the 1960s. Visitors use tablets and visual aids to immerse themselves in the experience, with all content available in English, Hebrew and Arabic. The building’s remaining floors and its courtyard are operated by SPNI, whose significant contributions to the yard include the planning and operation of an ecological pool and a “living wall” constructed with greenery from the local ecosystem.