Joan Goodnick Westenholz, a former chief curator at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem and one of the world’s foremost Assyriologists, passed away in February at the age of 69. A prolific scholar, Dr. Goodnick Westenholz published extensively on religion, literary traditions and gender issues in the ancient Near East. She was an authoritative voice on a wide range of subjects, from the epic literature of the Sargonic kings of Akkad to temple structures in Mesopotamia, and from gendered divinities and rituals to the Assyrian lexicon.
Dr. Goodnick Westenholz was appointed chief curator of the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem in 1988, a position that she retained for two decades. She worked with museum founder Elie Borowski to research, design and curate many of the permanent galleries and exhibitions at the museum. This undertaking earned her the recognition of the Israeli Ministry of Culture, which awarded her the Curators Prize in 2006 for contributions in understanding the history of the people of Israel against the background of the cultures of the ancient Near East. This was the first time the Curators Prize was given to a curator of ancient art and archaeology.