Civic and cultural projects
Kollek dedicated himself to many cultural projects during his lengthy term in office, most notably the development and expansion of the Israel Museum. From 1965–1996, he was president of the museum, and officially designated its founder in 2000. When the museum celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1990, Kollek was named "Avi Ha-muze'on" ("father of the museum").
Kollek was also instrumental in the establishment of the Jerusalem Theater, and served as the founder and head of the Jerusalem Foundation. Through a leadership which spanned decades, Kollek raised millions of dollars from private donors for civic development projects and cultural programs. Kollek once remarked that Israel needed a strong army, but it also needed expressions of culture and civilization.
Kollek was considered the "number-one friend" of the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo, which occupied a 15-acre (61,000 m2) site in Romema from 1950–1991. Though the zoo attracted many visitors to its exhibits of animals, reptiles and birds mentioned in the Bible and was successful in breeding and protecting endangered species, it was considered small and inferior to zoos in Tel Aviv and Haifa. Kollek promoted the idea of moving the zoo to a larger location and upgrading it to a state-of-the-art institution. Around 1990, under the auspices of the Jerusalem Foundation, the Tisch family of New York agreed to underwrite the expensive undertaking. The zoo re-opened as The Tisch Family Zoological Garden in Jerusalem on a 62-acre (250,000 m2) expanse near the neighborhood of Malha in 1993. Kollek helped the zoo raise money to build the elephant enclosure and to bring in female elephants from Thailand at $50,000 apiece. The zoo named its male elephant Teddy and one of its female elephants Tamar in honor of the mayor and his wife.
For Kollek's 90th birthday in 2001, the zoo feted him and the Jerusalem Foundation unveiled a new sculpture garden dedicated in his honor.