CULTURE: Museums

CULTURE: Museums

    Some 200 museums around the country receive millions of visitors annually. Large or small, in city, town, or kibbutz, they are treasure houses of archaeology, ethnography, and local history; of art, both ancient and modern; and of crafts, from primitive to sophisticated.​
  • icon_zoom.png
    CULTURE: Museums CULTURE: Museums
    Courtesy of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem
    Israel Museum, Jerusalem
    Drawings by Noam Nadav

    The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, founded (1965) as the country's national museum, comprises several main sections: the collection of the Bezalel Museum of Fine Arts, Judaica and Ethnography, exhibits of items typical of various Diaspora Jewish communities, art galleries, period rooms and a comprehensive selection of art objects from Africa, North and South America, Oceania and the Far East; an archeological wing containing artifacts from prehistoric times to the 15th century; a sculpture garden with over 60 works; the Shrine of the Book which houses rare biblical manuscripts, including  the Dead Sea Scrolls; a youth wing comprising galleries, classrooms and workshops, with an extensive educational program; the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem, housing a collection of regional archeology; the Paley Art Center in East Jerusalem which runs programs for Arab children; and the Ticho House, an art gallery and popular cafe in a century-old mansion in the center of Jerusalem. A wide range of impressive temporary exhibitions are presented regularly, as well as activities ranging from lectures, workshops and films to chamber concerts and art classes.

    In honor of its 45th anniversary, the Israel Museum recently completed a major renovation, which doubled the museum's gallery space. The new design of the galleries takes the visitor on a journey through time, starting with archeology and pre-history, a billion and a half years ago, and moving all the way to contemporary art.


    Tel Aviv Museum of Art

    The Tel Aviv Museum of Art (est. 1932), which opened its present building in 1971, consists of central galleries housing a comprehensive collection of classical and contemporary art, especially Israeli art; a youth wing; an auditorium where recitals, chamber concerts, and art films are presented regularly; and numerous halls which feature temporary exhibits. The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of Modern Art is also under its aegis.

    Mishkan LeOmanut

    Mishkan LeOmanut ("Home of Art,"est. 1934), in northern Kibbutz Ein Harod, the first rural museum in the country and the first art museum of the kibbutz movement, houses an extensive collection of Jewish painting, sculpture, and folk art from all over the world, features special temporary exhibitions and carries out various educational projects and art research.

    Haifa Museum

    The Haifa Museum (est. 1949) houses the Museum of Ancient Art, which specializes in archeological finds discovered in Israel and the Mediterranean basin and the Museum of Modern Art (est. 1951), with exhibits of art from all over the world (mid-18th century to the present). Also under the museum's aegis are the Museum of Prehistory, the National Maritime Museum and the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, a small but well-formed space that offers both temporary and permanent exhibitions.

    Eretz Israel Museum

    The Eretz Israel Museum (est. 1953) in Ramat Aviv, a comprehensive storehouse of archeological, anthropological, and historical findings in the region, comprises pavilions for glassware, ceramics, coins, copper, and more, as well as a planetarium. The 'Man and His Work' section features live demonstrations of ancient methods of weaving, jewelry and pottery making, grain grinding and bread baking. Tel Quasile, an excavation in which 12 distinct layers of civilization have been uncovered, is on the site.

    Also under the museum's aegis are the Museum of the History of Tel Aviv-Jaffa  and Independence Hall, where the State of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, both of which are in central Tel Aviv.


    L.A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art

    The L.A. Mayer Institute for Islamic Art (est. 1974) in Jerusalem houses extensive permanent exhibitions of pottery, textiles, jewelry, ceremonial objects, and the like, covering a thousand years of Islamic art, from Spain to India, and features temporary exhibits on special themes.

    Beit Hatefutsoth - The Diaspora Museum

    Beit Hatefutsoth (The Diaspora Museum, est. 1978), located on the Tel Aviv University campus, uses modern techniques and audio-visual displays to trace the history of Diaspora Jewish communities through the ages and throughout the world. In this non-artifact museum, exhibitions are arranged thematically, and each floor has a study area. Temporary exhibits on Jewish subjects, a chronosphere presenting an audio-visual overview of Jewish history and a full range of educational and cultural programs and travelling exhibitions are also regularly featured. The Web site also offers advice and guidance in all matters related to Jewish life and heritage.

    Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem

    The Tower of David Museum of the History of Jerusalem (est. 1988) is located in the Citadel compound, an important historical and archeological site containing finds from the First Temple Period (960-586 BCE), parts of a tower and the city wall from Hasmonean times (first century BCE), and the base of a  huge tower built by Herod (37-4 BCE).

    The non-artifact museum covers 4,000 years of Jerusalem's history, from its beginnings as a Canaanite city to modern times. Exhibits are divided according to periods, with a 'time line' in each room depicting main events, as well as displays making use of maps, videotapes, holograms, drawings, and models. Temporary exhibitions, not necessarily on related subjects, take advantage of the beautiful setting to display sculpture, installation art, and other works.


    Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority

    Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, is dedicated to perpetuating the memory of the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust. Renovated and enlarged in 2005, it includes the New Holocaust History Museum (within it the Hall of Names of victims of the Holocaust), the Museum of Holocaust Art, the exhibitions pavilion, the Avenue of Righteous Gentiles, an archive, the Shrine of Remembrance with names of the extermination camps on the floor, the Children's Memorial Pavilion, and the Valley of the Destroyed Communities. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the museum aims to transport the visitor into an all-encompassing sensory, emotional, and intellectual experience.​