Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem
2010 – 2020 Summary Report

In memory of the museum founder and first director, Professor Peter Hillman

The year 2019 marked the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death. The Museum’s main exhibition that year, Leonardo's Questions, was dedicated to the memory and work of Professor Peter Hillman (1928-2013), the founder of the Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem, who shaped the character and development of the Museum in its formative years, and beyond.*

Leonardo da Vinci, perhaps more than anyone else, embodied the idea of the classic "Renaissance Man", a person whose learning and interests span many different fields of knowledge, and include both the natural sciences and the humanities. Prof. Peter Hillman, a renowned scholar in both nuclear physics and neuroscience, was, undoubtedly, a "Renaissance man” of our time. Endowed with creativity and interdisciplinary curiosity, Peter never stopped asking questions, and inspired others to do the same.

Leonardo's da Vinci’s boundless curiosity led him to a comprehensive and in-depth examination of the world around him. The breadth of his knowledge enabled Leonardo to create analogies between various natural phenomena, and his technical skills and persistence allowed him to discover the inner workings of natural and mechanical structures and processes. Leonardo meticulously documented his observations in his many notebooks, and used his extraordinary draughtsmanship to process his thoughts and present his conclusions.

Leonardo’s Questions presented Leonardo's inquiries into nature, technology, optics, and theatre through 40 interactive exhibits, natural specimens, and commissioned artifacts and artwork. Its core exhibits now serve as the Museum's mechanics exhibition.

The idea for the Jerusalem Science Museum germinated in Hillman’s Neurobiology laboratory in the Hebrew University (HU) in 1980, and it was supported by the Hebrew University and the Mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek. Subsequently, Hillman tested new approaches and ideas in a pilot museum at the HU science campus. Through donations raised by the Jerusalem Foundation, the first wing of the Bloomfield Science Museum Jerusalem was inaugurated in 1992. Peter acted as the museum’s first director in a voluntary capacity for three years; and after his retirement in 1995 he continued to act as the museum’s scientific director until his death.