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The First Governor


"There are many positions of greater authority and renown within and without the British Empire, but in a sense I cannot explain there is no promotion after Jerusalem." (Storrs).

 

The exhibit is about Sir Ronald Storrs, his character, perceptions, and endeavor during his term of office as the first British governor of Jerusalem, between 1918 and 1926.
Sir Ronald Storrs arrived in Jerusalem after a prolonged term of service in the East in general, and in Cairo in particular. He was familiar with the city from previous visits but more than anything else he came with a well planned agenda: he recognized the rare complexity which is characteristic of Jerusalem - its status and symbolism in human culture, on the one hand, and his liberal and Orientalistic perceptions, on the other. Following hundreds of years of unsteady government and neglect under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the city was in need of a giant, and this is what Storrs did with a gentle hand that removed the dust, thus revealing a profound understanding of the city's significance, shedding light on the treasure of human culture buried and forgotten among the ruins. For the first time in generations, Jerusalem was governed by a man who regarded himself a civil servant, for whom it was imperative to respect and cultivate the things created by his predecessors and adapt his endeavor to the city's character - as one who regarded himself as receiving a highly valuable deposit for safekeeping. This was unlike all the city's previous conquerors who regarded themselves as bequeathed the city by the benevolence of God and worthy of eternal governance.
Storrs' attitude toward Jerusalem, "was combination regarding the city as the holy of holiness and dry humor. In his memoirs he draws a picture of the harsh and complex reality with a sober and ironic touch. Sir Ronald Storrs' effect on the county's society, culture and policy was huge, and its marks can still be seen today in the city's appearance and its public administration perceptions.
Some of his endeavors, and particularly the architectural ones, have aroused a great deal of interest in recent years, however, the man, the greatly inspired conductor  who orchestrated the events that took place in the Jerusalem arena, has still to be examined by scientific research. The exhibit encompasses Storrs' endeavor in the impossible complexity of creating both an urban and ceremonial fabric of life in Jerusalem: The Pro-Jerusalem Society which he founded and headed, shaping the planning and architectural image of the city, naming the city streets, reviving traditional crafts, founding cultural and social endeavors, reinforcing the status of the city's Christian ethnic groups, organizing rituals in the holy places, his complex relationship with the Zionist movements, etc - all these are presented through the eyes of Storrs himself and in his own words.

 

Curator: Dr. Nirit Shalev-Khalifa

Opens: October 24 2010

Closes: August 13, 2011