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Press Room 2012
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About the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world....More

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Israeli Art Season Opens at the Israel Museum

Four new exhibitions showcase wide range of styles and media;
Symposium on Israel’s arts in the 21st century accompanies exhibition openings

Jerusalem, December 17, 2012 – On December 18, 2012, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, inaugurates its Israeli Art Season, featuring four new exhibitions showcasing the work of emerging and established artists in a variety of disciplines. From realist painter Israel Hershberg to video artist Nelly Agassi and painter Joshua Borkovsky, these exhibitions highlight the Israel Museum's rich holdings in Israeli art, complemented by important loans and works from the Museum's international contemporary art collection. In conjunction with the Season's opening, the Museum will also host Review-Preview, a two-day symposium exploring Israel’s creative arts in the 21st century.

"The Museum is committed to gathering and presenting the rich texture of Israel’s creative output in the visual arts, featuring the work of recognized artists of the past and present, alongside that of promising younger talents," said James Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. "In the spirit of this commitment, we are proud to inaugurate this Israeli Art Season."

Fields of Vision: Landscapes by Israel Hershberg
Through February 4, 2013

One of Israel's preeminent realist painters, Israel Hershberg's multifaceted career as an artist, teacher, and founding director of the Jerusalem Studio School has added a new dimension to the canon of Israeli art over the past four decades. Known for his close, direct, and unrelenting powers of observation, Hershberg has, over the past ten years, broadened the scope of his own artistic production, moving from still lifes and interiors to expansive landscapes, each panorama the result of extended and painstaking work. Fields of Vision presents three large-scale landscapes and a preparatory study, produced in Italy and Israel, representing a pivotal chapter in Hershberg's oeuvre. The exhibition is curated by Amitai Mendelsohn, Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.

Nelly Agassi: Video Work
Through April 2, 2013

Nelly Agassi, Red Flame, 2004, Video 1:58 minutes
This exhibition explores the video work of Israeli artist Nelly Agassi from the beginning of her artistic career in the mid-1990s to today. In the ten works on view, Agassi uses her body as a platform for presenting repetitive actions dealing with womanhood, emotional experience, and physical pain. While her work documents these actions with an immediacy that resonates with the art of the 1970s, which often placed the body at the forefront, the intimacy of her creativity distinguishes Agassi from those artists who used the body for ideological purposes. Agassi is a wide-ranging artist who works in video, on paper, and in embroidery, creating installations and engaging in performance art. However, her videos are at the core of her work, creating a powerful and enduring link between the private and the public, the intimate and the exposed, and inviting the spectator to enter the artist's world and undergo an intense emotional experience. Nelly Agassi is curated by Amitai Mendelsohn, Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.

Great Wide Open: New and Old in the Collection
Through April 2, 2013

Arie Aroch, Boat, 1968

Since the Romantic era, artists have been fascinated by seascapes and desert landscapes -- their infinitude, the dangers inherent in them, and the catharsis they offer. Challenged by their predominantly abstract forms and textures, painters and photographers alike have struggled to capture the vast, ungraspable plain devoid of a distinct beginning and end. Approximately sixty works by Israeli and international artists are on view, including recently acquired works alongside others from the Museum's collections. Juxtaposing older and more recent examples, the exhibition re-contextualizes the periods, movements, and mindsets that underscore the multilayered quality of the Museum’s holdings. Among the artists whose works are on display are: Mordecai Ardon, Arie Aroch, Gustav Courbet, Joseph Dadoune, Ori Gersht, Dani Karavan, Liat Livni, Uri Nir, Ezra Orion, and Gilad Ratman. Great Wide Open is curated by Amitai Mendelsohn, Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.

Veronese Green
Joshua Borkovsky: Paintings, 1987-2012
Through April 2, 2013

Joshua Borkovsky, From the Vera Icon cycle, 2008

This comprehensive exhibition features 58 works by the prominent Jerusalem-based artist Joshua Borkovsky, selected from ten cycles of paintings spanning 25 years. Many of Borkovsky's works are inspired by myth and involve elements of repetition, shadow, and reflection. Three of the cycles from the past decade – Echo and Narcissus, Vera-Icon, and Apelles' Line – stand at the exhibition’s core, complemented by artworks from this same period and from the 1980s. Together they offer an integral body of work, in which each unit resonates with the others. Veronese Green is curated by guest curator Moshe Ninio, with Associate Curator of Israeli Art Aya Miron.       

Review-Preview: The Arts in Israel in the 21st Century
December 18–19

Inaugurating the first public discussion examining Israel’s creative arts in the first years of the 21st century, the Adi Foundation, the Israel Museum, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem present a two-day symposium led by many of Israel’s preeminent artists, scholars, and intellectuals. Comprising ten sessions of lectures, artistic presentations, and performances, the symposium seeks to address a wide range of creative domains – the visual arts, architecture, design, cinema, television, theater, dance, literature, music, and Jewish creativity, including presentations by, among others, artists Adi Ness and Micha Ullman, singer Efrat Gosh, poet Agi Mishol, Rabbi Dr. Benny Lau, Professor Avishai Margalit, and "father of Israeli art" Yigal Zalmona. Review-Preview is open free of charge to the public at the Israel Museum.


Pioneers of Modern Judaica Wolpert and Gumbel in First Exhibition Together

80 Works on view, many seen publicly for the first time, including 10 Hanukkah lamps

November 14, 2012 – The Israel Museum presents the first exhibition to consider two of the most influential designers of Modern Judaica—David Heinz Gumbel (1906-1992) and Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert (1900-1981)—in relationship to one another. Forging Ahead: Wolpert and Gumbel, Israeli Silversmiths for the Modern Age traces how the evolution of the designers’ style led to a complete re-envisioning of the aesthetics and creation of Jewish ceremonial objects both at home and abroad. This is also the first exhibition to focus on the work of David Gumbel, presenting 40 of his works alongside 26 works by Wolpert, in addition to preparatory sketches and works by select students of the master craftsmen. Forging Ahead opens on November 23, 2012 and runs through April 6, 2013.

– The Israel Museum presents the first exhibition to consider two of the most influential designers of Modern Judaica—David Heinz Gumbel (1906-1992) and Ludwig Yehuda Wolpert (1900-1981)—in relationship to one another. Forging Ahead: Wolpert and Gumbel, Israeli Silversmiths for the Modern Age traces how the evolution of the designers’ style led to a complete re-envisioning of the aesthetics and creation of Jewish ceremonial objects both at home and abroad. This is also the first exhibition to focus on the work of David Gumbel, presenting 40 of his works alongside 26 works by Wolpert, in addition to preparatory sketches and works by select students of the master craftsmen. Forging Ahead opens on November 23, 2012 and runs through April 6, 2013.

Wolpert and Gumbel shared a vision to renew the design of Jewish ceremonial objects by fusing function, style, beauty, and Jewish-Israeli artistic expression. Emigrating from Germany to the Land of Israel in the mid-1930s, they brought with them the unadorned, smooth, and functional forms of Bauhaus and Modern design, which they adapted for Jewish ritual objects. While Wolpert focused on industrial design and Gumbel on handicraft, they both shared guiding principles that included: a profound understanding of material and its qualities, a sense that there should be a harmonious relationship  between matter and form, and the importance of incorporating quotations from the Bible and other Jewish texts in newly-created, modern Hebrew fonts.

Wolpert’s work became well known in the United Stated following his appointment in 1956 as the head the Tobe Pascher Workshop for Modern Judaica at the Jewish Museum in New York, a position he held until his death. Many synagogues and private collectors acquired his Torah arks, Hanukkah lamps, and other ritual objects, which they valued not only as useful Judaica objects, but also as examples of beautiful Modern design.  American collectors also appreciated his work because of his trademark integration of Hebrew letters and texts, a practice he began early in his career in Germany. Ritual objects such as candlesticks and Kiddush cups inscribed with biblical texts became increasingly popular as symbols of a renewed Jewish spirituality, aesthetic values and pride in Jewish heritage. 

Gumbel remained in Jerusalem, training silversmiths in his techniques. His works were regularly commissioned by Israel's official institutions and presented as gifts to world leaders and dignitaries. Perhaps the most famous of his commissioned works on display in Forging Ahead is the case created to house Israel's Declaration of Independence (1949), a smooth silver cylinder adorned with the symbol of the new State of Israel, inscribed "Signed by members of the People’s Council in the city of Tel Aviv on Sabbath eve, 5 Iyyar, 5708."

Among the founders of the New Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts, and heads of the Metalwork Department from 1936-1956, Wolpert and Gumbel mentored generations of students who adopted their design approach and working methods. Their vision continues today in the works of their students, who are leading silversmiths in the field.

Forging Ahead is curated by Sharon Weiser-Ferguson, Associate Curator, Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life.



Reading Takes Center Stage in Israel Museum Exhibition

By the Book: 500 Years of Readers and Reading in European Art on view from November 13

Jerusalem, November 6, 2012 – A new Israel Museum exhibition examines the significance of reading in European Art, highlighting works by Italian, Dutch, German and British masters portraying readers in their study or a landscape. By the Book: 500 Years of Readers and Reading in European Art presents depictions of readers young and old, peasant and noble, alongside antique books from the National Library of Israel, showing the evolution of reading as an increasingly popular pastime amid people in a range of occupations and socioeconomic classes. Focusing on paintings and prints from Renaissance through the nineteenth century, the exhibition also includes a small number of contemporary works. Approximately fifty works are on display, including Bartolommeo Schidone's Horn Book from the mid-16th century, featuring a child holding the first prayer book, the exquisite oil painting Pageant Books (2009) by New York-based Max Ferguson showing a beautiful woman browsing through the bookshelves of a well-known Manhattan book store, and prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt van Rijn.

In the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance period in Europe, most educated men belonged either to the clergy or the nobility, and ordinary people could rarely read or write. This exhibition portrays those fortunate few for whom books and education were part of their patrimony. Not until the nineteenth century did the social and technological revolution make education and literacy available to all. Late Renaissance prints by Dürer and Rembrandt portray scholarly monks who had chosen to leave society altogether and live alone in remote places, relying on books as their faithful companions, link to civilization and guardians of their sanity. Very different from these solitary bookworms are the portrayals of Jewish readers, in which reading is generally presented as a group experience rather than an individual one. Scenes from the heder (Jewish religious elementary school), showing small boys and their melamed (teacher) reading the obligatory texts together, a Bar-Mitzvah boy reading from the Torah, and depictions of synagogues and private homes – in all these portrayals books are part of community and family life.    

Alongside these individual and group portraits, rare books from the National Library’s collection are on display, in an attempt to reconstruct the “bestseller list” enjoyed by the fortunate few who could afford the luxury of cultural leisure activities. Examples include a 1781 edition of Robinson Crusoe, a 1782 edition of Gulliver's Travels, a 1802 edition of Goethe's Young Werther and a 1859 edition of Grimms' fairytales.

By the Book is curated by Shlomit Steinberg, Hans Dichand Curator of European Art, and is on view from November 13, 2012, through November 2013.



Shpilman Photography Prize Awarded to John Jacob

Jerusalem, October 21, 2012 – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, has awarded John Jacob with the second Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography. Selected from over 50 proposals from candidates in 15 countries by a jury of leaders in the field, Jacob will receive $45,000 to support his original theoretical project “Reliquum: That Which Remains,” which will investigate the lingering material presence of the past throughout the history of photography and which he then plans to develop into a publication. Created in partnership with the Israel Museum, the biannual Shpilman Prize aims to catalyze and support international research projects exploring theoretical and practical issues in photography. Jacob was nominated by Dr. Monika Faber, Director of the Photoinstitut Bonartes in Vienna, Austria.


The Shpilman Prize Committee, which selected Jacob as this year’s Shpilman recipient, was comprised of a jury of international experts in the field of photography, including:

  • Nissan N. Perez (Chair), Horace and Goldsmith Senior Curator, Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
  • Prof. Dana Arieli-Horowitz, Dean of the Holon Institute of Technology, Holon, Israel
  • Prof. Hanan Laskin, Founder of the Photography Department at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design and academic advisor to art schools and cultural institutions in Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Prof. Dr. Bodo von Dewitz, Deputy Director, Curator, Department of Photography, Museum Ludwig, Köln, Germany
  • Anne Wilkes Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham Curator of Photography, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA

The members of the jury also awarded honorable mentions to two runners-up — British artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, and Italian scholar Dr. Katia Mazzucco—whose proposals the jury deemed of special relevance to current artistic and theoretical research.


About the winner

John Jacob (b. 1957) began his career as an artist and freelance curator, working mostly in Eastern Europe and the FSU. In 1992, he was appointed director of exhibitions at Boston University and a year later, executive director of the Photographic Resource Center. From 2001 to 2003, Jacob worked as an adjunct professor of fine arts at the College of the Atlantic, Bar Arbor, Maine. In 2003, he was a founding director of the Inge Morath Foundation in New York City. In 2011, he joined the Magnum Foundation as director of Legacy Programs, developing projects and partnerships related to Magnum's estate members. Jacob works as a consultant to museums, archives, and artists' estates worldwide and has contributed to a number of books and other publications.


John Jacob summarized his prize-winning theoretical research project as an exploration of photography’s performative qualities, using Roland Barthes’s theories of photography as a framework. Jacob will pay particular attention to vernacular images, including spirit photographs, tintype portraits, and found pictures.


Israel Museum Sets July Attendance Record: 83,000 Visitors Enjoy Groundbreaking Art Exhibitions and Programs

Jerusalem, August 12, 2012 – The Israel Museum has recorded an unprecedented attendance during July, welcoming over 83,000 visitors throughout the month.  During this period visitors included local and international tourists and groups of all ages participating in a wide range of summer programs. Visitors were enticed by new exhibitions including: Beuys | Kantor: Remembering, White Gold: Revealing the World’s Earliest Coins, A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews, and Crossplay: Male Actors, Female Roles in Kabuki Theatre among others.

“We are thrilled to see Museum attendance reaching beyond our expectations and breaking our own historical record for the month of July,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “We are enjoying a gratifying response to our current exhibitions and to the collections on display in the renewed Museum.  Both first-time and repeat visitors are adding to the dynamism of our campus, and we are grateful for this widespread enthusiasm and support," said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.

In the first half of 2012, the Museum recorded close to half a million visitors, following on from 2011, when attendance statistics exceeded those of previous years with a total of nearly 820,000 visitors. Since completing the comprehensive renewal of its 20-acre campus, with new galleries, service facilities, and public spaces, the Museum has been able to expand its offerings to serve a broader and more diverse audience.

On June 19, the Museum opened the exhibition A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews which remains on view through November 30, and which is receiving as many as 1,000 visitors each day, drawing from audiences that are not traditionally visitors to the Museum.

During July, the Museum also hosted a number of important cultural events, among them Contact Point, a program of exciting one-time encounters between artists and aspects of the Museum and its campus, produced in conjunction with the Jerusalem Season of Culture, which drew over 5,000 participants for one evening’s event, and the Ninth Annual Jerusalem Wine Festival, a celebration of wine tasting from the leading wineries in Israel, which served more than 10,000 participants over four evenings.

Israel Museum Announces Two Senior Curatorial Appointments in its Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing 

Rita Kersting Appointed as New Curator of Contemporary Art Mira Lapidot Promoted to Chief Curator of Fine Arts

Jerusalem, August 7, 2012 - The Israel Museum today announced the appointment of Rita Kersting as its new Landeau Family Curator of Contemporary Art. A former director of the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, Düsseldorf, and currently working in The Netherlands as a curator of contemporary art, Kersting will begin her new position in Jerusalem on October 10, 2012. The Museum has also announced that Mira Lapidot, who has served as a Curator of Fine Arts and Assistant to the Chief Curator of Fine Arts at the Israel Museum since 2003, has been promoted to become the Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of Fine Arts, effective immediately. The two positions had been held previously by Suzanne Landau, who will be joining the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in September as its Director and Chief Curator.  

“After a careful international search, we are pleased to have found in Rita Kersting a curator of contemporary art who will extend our impressive tradition of engagement with contemporary art and artists worldwide and who will bring to the Museum the kind of international perspective that is so vital to our mission,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “Together with Mira Lapidot as Chief Curator of Fine Arts, we look forward to Rita’s forging new relationships that will only strengthen our already vibrant program in contemporary art around the globe.”

During the past decade, Kersting has curated numerous exhibitions in Germany, including most recently abc—about painting in 2011, which presented 130 international artists represented by 120 galleries at Gleisdreick/Station, Berlin. She also conceived and founded a contemporary collection at the Museum Kunstpalast in Düsseldorf and curated the contemporary collection for the Ministry of Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia. Kersting served as director of the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen, the oldest art institution in Düsseldorf, from 2001 through 2007, and as a member of the Ankaufskommission für die Kunstsammlung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Acquisition Committee for the State Art Collection of Germany) from 2003 through 2007. During her tenure at the Kunstverein, she oversaw the renovation of the Kunsthalle and curated numerous exhibitions, including Zero Gravity in 2001, a group exhibition which showcased the work of Isa Genzken, Martin Kippenberger, and Wolfgang Tillmans, among others, as well as major solo presentations of such artists as Tacita Dean, Rineke Dijkstra, Sam Durant, and Richard Wright. Kersting received her M.A. in art history from the University of Cologne.

As Curator of Contemporary Art in the Museum’s Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, Kersting will be responsible for extending the Museum’s cutting-edge contemporary art program, overseeing acquisitions and exhibitions, and sustaining and growing the Museum’s impressive legacy of engagement with artists and collectors worldwide.

“I look forward to continuing the Israel Museum’s commitment to identifying and presenting the work of established and emerging contemporary artists from around the world,” said Kersting. “In the city of Jerusalem, which holds so much history, it is important to continue to look forward and to understand the cultural creativity of the moment in context.”

In conjunction with Kersting’s appointment, the Museum has promoted Mira Lapidot to the position of Chief Curator in the Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, which encompasses works from across the ages in Western and non-Western cultures, including European Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Israeli Art, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, Asian Art, Design and Architecture, Photography, and Prints and Drawings.

Lapidot has worked at the Israel Museum since 1997 in a number of roles, serving most recently as Curator of Fine Arts and Assistant to the Chief Curator of Fine Arts., a position which she held for almost a decade. Lapidot had central responsibility for the logistical planning of the new Fine Arts Wing, including the design of permanent installations and rotating special exhibitions for all of the Fine Arts collections, within the framework of the Museum’s 2010 campus renewal project. She has curated a number of exhibitions at the Museum, including Far and Away: The Fantasy of Japan in Contemporary Israeli Art, in 2006, and Signs of Life, in 2008. Lapidot is currently working on Yehudit Sasportas’ first major museum exhibition in Israel, opening in May 2013. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Lapidot has a joint degree in Chemistry and the History of Art from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she is currently completing a Masters in the History of Art.



Monumental Installation by Ron Arad in Israel Museum’s Art Garden from August 16 to September 5, 2012

Rendering of Ron Arad’s installation 720°, in the Israel Museum’s Bill Rose Art Garden

Jerusalem, Israel - July 19, 2012 The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and the Jerusalem Season of Culture will present Ron Arad’s monumental installation 720°—an immersive experience that presents 360-degree screenings of films and video art—in the heart of the Museum’s Isamu Noguchi-designed Billy Rose Art Garden. Composed of 5,600 silicon rods suspended from a height of 26 feet (8 meters) to form a perfect circle, 720° will allow visitors to experience projections both inside the installation’s interior and also from vantage points across the Museum’s 20-acre campus. 720° will be presented from August 16 through September 5, and will feature a nightly scheduled program of video projections by leading multi-media artists, together with surprise, one-time-only performances by Israeli performers and performance artists.


A prolific artist and designer who has experimented with varied materials and textures throughout his career, Arad provides an alternative experience of images in motion with this interactive installation. Each evening, video works and films by Mat Collishaw, Ori Gersht, Christian Marclay, and David Shrigley, among many others, will be projected on 720° in an hour-long loop. In addition, short, surprise performances with leading Israeli artists in music, dance, poetry, and theater will be staged within and projected on the massive installation. Performances will not be announced in advance, creating unexpected and memorable experiences for each evening’s guests.


“We are always experimenting with new ways for our visitors to interact with great works of art in the Museum’s unique landscape and setting,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “Ron Arad is one of the leading figures in art and design to emerge from Israel’s current generation, and we are delighted to provide him with our very special venue for this monumentally engaging work. We look forward to enjoying our audience’s spontaneous interactions with and responses to it.”


“I am thrilled to be able to partner with the Israel Museum to bring this unique installation by Ron Arad to Israel as part of the Jerusalem Season of Culture,” said Itay Mautner, the Jerusalem Season of Culture's Artistic Director. “When you see 720° in Jerusalem, it’s completely different from what audiences saw in London at the Roundhouse, both in its concept and its context. By bringing the installation outside, the work becomes a part of Jerusalem’s landscape, changing both the skyline of the city and the feel of the installation. It has a uniquely Jerusalem flavor.”


"Jerusalem has become a world-class cultural destination, and we hope that art and design lovers, and tourists of all kinds, will enjoy Ron Arad’s 720° as a catalyst to appreciate our beautiful city with fresh eyes and in a new light,” stated Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat. “We are delighted to partner with the Schusterman Foundation, the Jerusalem Season of Culture, and the Israel Museum in this creative enterprise."


The installation is a collaborative project of the Jerusalem Season of Culture and The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and was originally developed and presented with the title Curtain Call, as a part of the Bloomberg Summer at the Roundhouse Series, London in 2011. Its production in Jerusalem is made possible by the Schusterman Foundation–Israel and the Municipality of Jerusalem.



For the First Time in Israel: Original Kabuki Theater Costumes and Artwork to be shown in Israel Museum Exhibition

Katsukawa Shunkō, 1743–1812, Onnagata in the role of Tonase in the play Chūshingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers), Woodblock color print, 1773, The Jacob Pins collection in the Israel Museum

Jerusalem, July 2, 2012 - The Israel Museum presents Crossplay: Male Actors, Female Roles in Kabuki Theatre, showcasing 17th-20th century Japanese prints, paintings and original Kabuki theatre costumes which are being shown in Israel for the first time. The exhibition opens on July 3 and will be on view through November 10.

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese form of theatre, first established in the early 17th century. Its drama deals with the daily conflicts of Japanese life, myth and historical tales of ancient Japan. It is played in a styled manner of speech, music and dance with extravagant costumes and accessories. Its stage is elaborate, equipped with trap doors and a bridge for the actor's dramatic entrances and exits.


After the Tokugawa shogunate -feudal military dictatorship-government banned female acting on stage in 1629, the art of female impersonating flourished. Not just a well-disguised man, the onnagata role went beyond mere mimicking, and established its own staged femininity. Eventually, the virtuoso onnagata actor gained high popularity as a fashion trend setter in the big cities of Japan.  After film was introduced in Japan at the end of the 19th century, the onnagata continued to portray females in movies until the early 1920s. At that time, however, using real female actresses was coming into fashion with the introduction of western realist films. Kabuki, however, remains all-male even today


The Israel Museum exhibition showcases 17th-20th century prints, paintings and original Kabuki theatre costumes in an attempt to highlight the important role of the female impersonators in the Edo period (1615-1868). Through art, film and costume, the visitor will gain an insight into the evolution of this unique acting form, while glimpsing a unique aspect of Japanese culture.


Costumes, in combination with makeup, contribute to the portrayal of characters in Kabuki plays, indicating their gender, social class, and age by means of intricate patterns and vibrant colors, such as the red associated with the role of the princess. The floral symbols and literary allusions imbue the costumes with subtlety, illusion, and hidden meaning, enhancing the viewer's familiarity with a particular protagonist. They also occasionally identify the actor by his personal crest or another symbol typifying the role for which he was most renowned. All of the costumes exhibited in Crossplay: Male Actors, Female Roles in Kabuki Theatre are on loan from the Isetan Mitsukoshi Ltd. Department Store.


As part of the Israel Museum’s program of summer events, on August 30 and 31, a troupe of Kabuki actors from Japan will perform and demonstrate the distinctive style of kabuki acting, explaining the significance of the gestures and music accompanying this colorful and unique form of theater.

 Crossplay: Male Actors, Female Roles in Kabuki Theatre is shown in association with the Embassy of Japan in Israel and the Japan Foundation, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and is curated by Miriam Malachi, Associate curator, Marcel Lorber Department of Asian Art.


Israel Museum Exhibition Sheds Light on Culture and Life of Hasidic Jews

Anatoli Antoni Węcławski, Hasidic Jews in a Warsaw street, 1930s

Jerusalem - June 18, 2012 The Israel Museum offers an illuminating exploration of the culture of the ultra-orthodox Hasidim in its new exhibition A World Apart Next Door: Glimpses into the Life of Hasidic Jews.  On view from June 19 – December 1, 2012, the exhibition sheds light on lesser-known aspects of the culture of the Hasidim through photographs, drawings, engravings, video, music, and rarely seen objects relating to the social and spiritual life of this often hidden community.  A World Apart Next Door places a special focus on the clothing of Hasidic men, women, and children, deciphering for visitors the rich codes woven into their garments.  The exhibition also explores the connection between the Hasidim and their charismatic leaders, or Rebbes, and the life-cycle events and seasonal traditions that are the foundation of life in the Hasidic community.

“Hasidic culture is a source of great curiosity for many in Israel and around the world,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.  “A World Apart Next Door is a unique endeavor in that its subject, not restricted to a single history or geography, illuminates a global and growing community of the present. We look forward to sharing this exploration of the history and life of the Hasidic community with all of our audiences.”

A World Apart Next Door introduces visitors to the origins of Hasidism, and explores the lives and customs of members of the Hasidic community through approximately 270 works, drawn from public and private collections, as well as objects on loan from the communities themselves, most of which have never been on public view.  The exhibition explores the following themes:


The exhibition begins by introducing visitors to the origins of Hasidim and The Baal Shem Tov, the Eastern European rabbi who founded Hasidic Judaism in the 18th century.  The Baal Shem Tov’s Tallith, or prayer shawl, and a type of Ukrainian Hanukkah lamp named after him, are among the objects on view.  Original, rare first editions of theological texts by founding teachers of Hasidim are also on display.  In addition, contemporary photographs from the Ukraine show a world that no longer exists but is still visited by Hasidim making pilgrimages to the graves of past leaders and teachers.

Hasidic Children

Photographs and films depict important life cycle events, like cutting the hair of a 3-year-old boy for the first time and his entrance to the children’s school, the kheyder, where the language of instruction is Yiddish. Children’s toys, all of which have religious significance, and children’s clothing are also on display.

Hasidic Women
This part of the exhibition features women’s garments, with a particular focus on traditional headgear that signals the various Hasidic ‘courts.’  Headgear ranges from wigs, wig-pieces, and scarves, to a combination of all three, and also includes elaborate shterntikhl headdresses adorned with pearls and jewels, some of which belonged to the wives of well-known Hasidic rabbis.  A film depicts the Mitzvah Tantz, a central wedding ritual in which the bride dances with male family members and with the Rebbe, holding a long modesty belt between her and her partner.

Hasidic Men

The exhibition examines men’s dress, with its rich inner codes signaling membership in different Hasidic courts.  Various styles of prayer, ranging from seclusion (hitbodedut) to enraptured communal singing are depicted on film, and other films illustrate crafts particular to Hasidim, such as making black brimmed hats and shtraymls, or fur hats, commonly associated with Hasidic dress.

The Rebbe

The final section of the exhibition explores the life of the Rebbe, the religious and spiritual leader of the Hasidic community.  Film footage depicts a tish, translating literally to “table,” a custom that demonstrates the central importance of the Rebbe in Hasidic life and exemplifies the emotional intensity of Hasidic religious practice.  During this ritual, the Rebbe eats alone in front of his community, sharing his leftovers (shirayim) with his followers.  Objects of talismanic significance are on display, including Kiddush cups made of coins given by the Rebbe and a coat worn by a famous Rebbe from the Vizhnitz court, passed on as precious “holy” legacy.  A stunning Torah crown made of gold and precious stones from the regal Hasidic court of the Ruzhyn dynasty in the Ukraine is on display as a special feature. 

A World Apart Next Door is curated by Ester Muchawsky-Schnapper, Curator of the Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life at the Israel Museum.  The exhibition was made possible by René and Susanne Braginsky, Zurich.  Additional support was provided by  the Aaron Beare Foundation, Durban, South Africa, and the Alan B. Slifka Foundation, New York.  The English catalogue accompanying the exhibition was made possible by Jerome L. and Ellen Stern, New York.

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Joseph Beuys and Tadeusz Kantor, Their Lives and their Work, Explored in Joint Exhibition at Israel Museum

Opening May 22, Beuys | Kantor: Remembering Examines Myth, Memory, and History in the Work of Two Influential 20th-Century European Artists

Jerusalem, May 22, 2012 – The Israel Museum presents Beuys | Kantor: Remembering, the first exhibition juxtaposing the life and work of German artist Joseph Beuys (1921–1986) and Polish artist Tadeusz Kantor (1915–1990), and the first comprehensive survey of Beuys’ work ever presented in Israel. With a particular focus on their parallel biographies, Beuys | Kantor examines the major 20th-century events and the complex relations among Germans, Poles, and Jews that altered the world view of that time and shaped the individual histories of these two renowned artists -- and that reveal today issues of myth, memory, conflict, and war addressed directly and indirectly by each of them in their work. Organized by the Israel Museum, the exhibition features approximately sixty works on loan from important public collections internationally, including three dimensional works, installations, and drawings, as well as films documenting each artists’ performance and theatre pieces. The exhibition will be on view from May 22 through October 27, 2012.

“Joseph Beuys and Tadeusz Kantor are two of the most important figures in 20th century European art, each offering provocative and deeply personal perspectives on the horrific events that shaped both their personal lives and world history,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “Our exhibition is the first to present the works of Beuys and Kantor together, and the first comprehensive exhibition of Beuys in Israel. We look forward to sharing this unique joint exhibition, which will offer powerful new insights into both artists’ artistic achievements, with our audiences.”

Two artists who deliberately pushed the limits of art across a range of media, Beuys and Kantor are chiefly known for their actions, including happenings, theatre performances, street manifestations, lectures, seminars, and debates, as well for their shared focus on the medium of drawing. Beuys | Kantor: Remembering explores how the varied range of activity for both artists served as a visual means of dealing with their personal histories as well as with the history of their times. The complex question of Jewish-German-Polish relations and the traumatic upheavals in 20th century European history played an important role in shaping their work, which was at once deeply social and political and at the same time deeply personal. Each in his own way aimed to address the chaos of the 20th century, with such works as Beuys’s monumental installation The End of the Twentieth Century, consisting of large corpse-like pieces of rock strewn across an expansive open space, and Kantor’s A Great Emballage for the End of the Twentieth Century, from his theatre piece I Shall Never Return, 1988, in which characters from his earlier plays make re-appearances. The exhibition highlights how the artworks and artistic actions of each artist imbue this history with personal thoughts, emotions, and above all conscience, exemplifying their shared belief that the role of the artist is to restore, to reform, and to remember.

Beuys | Kantor: Remembering is curated by Jaromir Jedlinski, former director of the Muzeum Sztuki, Lodz, under the direction of Suzanne Landau, Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of the Fine Arts and Landeau Family Curator of Contemporary Art at the Israel Museum.

The exhibition was made possible by Lynn Schusterman and the Schusterman Foundation – Israel. Additional support was provided by The Association of Friends of the Israel Museum in Germany and the donors to the Museum’s 2012 Exhibition Fund.
About Joseph Beuys (1921–1986)

Joseph Beuys is celebrated as one of the most important and revolutionary European artists of the last century. Born in Krefeld, Germany in 1921, he grew up in Kleve, a border region between Germany and the Netherlands imbued with (in his words) “an atmosphere of mysticism.” In 1941, he enlisted in the army and trained as a radio operator in German-occupied Poland, also studying botany. He ultimately rejected the scientific method and replaced it with art, which he saw as a way of “mobilizing human creativity.”From early performances where he explored the role of artist as shaman, Beuys engaged his audience in unprecedented and provocative ways, calling upon art to be a genuinely human medium for revolutionary change. Embarking on a body of work that would blur the boundaries between art and life, Beuys created performance objects, installations, sculptures and drawings that challenge traditional notions of beauty and desire. The profoundly experimental nature of his work established Beuys as a founding father of the German avant-garde.

About Tadeusz Kantor (1915–1990)

Tadeusz Kantor, a Polish painter, assemblage artist, set designer and theatre director, is renowned for his revolutionary performances and avant-garde theater and art. Born in 1915 in Wielopole Skrzynskie, Kantor studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, he founded the Independent Theatre and served as a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków. He also directed experimental theatre in Krakow and became known for his avant-garde stage designs. In 1955 Kantor led a group of visual artists, art critics, and art theoreticians to found the Cricot 2 Theatre, where he developed and tested his creative ideas, performing works that employed silent film-like scenery and juxtaposed mannequins with live actors. Having reached the limits of traditional theatrical concepts, the group began to stage “happenings” in the 1960s. Despite his wide-ranging artistic output, Kantor identified first and foremost as a painter throughout his life.

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Israel Museum Presents New Exhibition of Drawings by Israeli Artist Joshua Neustein

Jerusalem, May 17 2012 – Neustein: Drawing in the Margins, a new exhibition of 75 works spanning 45 years of Israeli artist Joshua Neustein’s career, has opened at The Israel Museum. On view through October 27, 2012, the exhibition explores how Neustein’s work undermines conventional approaches to drawing, and crosses over into the fields of philosophy and linguistics.

Neustein: Drawing in the Margins deals with the essential physicality of drawing, penetrating the pictorial surface with inserted layers and internal interventions and spaces.  The works on display were created using materials as varied as carbon copy paper, tissue, polyurethane, bubble wrap, holograms, video, aluminum sheets, string, magnets, steel wool, sound tracks, steel brushes, erasers, performance, and photos. Neustein’s drawings do not deal with social issues, isms, identity, personal testaments or romantic postures; and figurative and narrative content has evaporated, so that what remains is fundamental, irreducible drawing.

Neustein, who divides his time between New York and Tel Aviv, is highly regarded for his role at the forefront of the environmental and conceptual art movements. The first artist to recycle his own artifacts in his work, Neustein was also an early creator of images based on language. He opens the way to new drawing, contending that drawing is the most fertile, responsive and exciting art practice today. His drawings collapse conventional thinking about drawing and address its constituent materials and process of formation, while his practice engages the discourse of modernism and a redefinition of postmodern references.
Neustein: Drawing in the Margins is curated by Meira Perry-Lehmann, Michael Bromberg Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings.

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World’s Earliest Coins to be Featured in Israel Museum Exhibition

500 Coins from 7th Century BCE on Public View for First Time

Jerusalem - May 10, 2012 The Israel Museum presents a new exhibition featuring 500 of the first coins ever minted, providing an intimate look at the dawn of coinage. Cast in western Asia Minor (present-day Eastern Turkey) during the mid-seventh century BCE, and made of an alloy of gold and silver known as electrum or “white gold,” these intricately decorated coins shed light on one of the most important innovations in human history. Many of the coins featured in the exhibition are held in private collections and have never before been on public view. White Gold: Revealing the World’s Earliest Coins is on view at the Israel Museum from May 8, 2012, through March 30, 2013

“Electrum coins offer a glimpse at a pivotal innovation in human history and serve as a striking reminder of the importance of iconography and visual communication in a period when literacy was limited worldwide,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “We are thrilled to present these beautiful and extremely rare coins to our audiences, and very grateful to the collectors who have agreed to lend these treasures for public display in this landmark exhibition.”
White Gold traces the evolution of visual imagery in coinage, beginning with the earliest designs, which resemble Near Eastern seals and take their inspiration from contemporaneous Near Eastern art. With time, Greek elements began to appear, such as mythological scenes drawn from the Greek tradition and humanized deities. Later coins also demonstrate an increased plasticity of form and a qualitative improvement in the understanding of the relationship of a coin’s design to its surface.
The exhibition highlights three main categories of images found on electrum coins:
Myth – Many images appearing on electrum coins have their origin in myth, including depictions of tales of the gods, interactions between deities and mortals, and adventures of heroes who combated monsters. Examples on view include:
Medusa and Perseus: The Greek mythological figures Medusa and Perseus are depicted on electrum coins from the cities of Cyzicus and Mytilene.
Winged Figures: Winged figures, such as Phobos and Nike, who appear on the coins of Cyzicus, are commonly depicted on electrum coins.
Mortals - Idealized human images, rather than specific individuals, often appear on electrum coins. Females are young, beautiful, and sophisticated, and males are generally depicted as handsome youths, armed warriors, or bearded men in the prime of adulthood.
Animals – Animals, both wild and domestic, are often portrayed on electrum coins., with depictions of domestic species frequently featuring sacrificial animals. Examples on view include: 
Spotted Stag: The “Phanes stater,” usually attributed to Ephesus, is perhaps the most recognized of all electrum coins, and only six specimens of this rare coin are known to exist. The Greek inscription “I am the sign of Phanes” suggests that the stag motif derived from the signet of a prominent male figure.
Felines: Members of the cat family, especially lions, are common motifs in ancient Near Eastern iconography, where they often represent the protective powers of deities or symbolize ruling authorities. Lions are particularly common on electrum coins, and lionesses and panthers also appear. They are often depicted in a prancing position, with wide-open jaws and protruding tongues.
Seal and Octopus: A large coin on display features an unusual action scene depicting a seal eating an octopus.
It is through the passion and generosity of Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan and Baron Lorne Thyssen-Bornemisza, that the Israel Museum is able to present this first public display of an outstanding group of five hundred miniature masterpieces.
White Gold: Revealing the World’s Earliest Coins is curated by Haim Gitler, Curator of Numismatics.

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 Wall Work by Dror Daum on display at the Israel Museum

Jerusalem April 29, 2012 - The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, presents the work of Dror Daum,  the  2008 winner of the Encouragement Prize from the Bezalel M.F.A. program in art and photography, and the 2005 winner of the Young Artist's Prize from the Israel Ministry of Culture and Education, in Wall Work II: Dead Leds,  a new exhibition opening on May 1.

In Dead Leds Dror Daum shatters the realistic, alluring image of the billboard, focusing on the abstract and the arbitrary and perpetuating the missing, dead bulbs. Daum filmed segments of large electronic billboards, mounted in different public places around the country, which are composed of thousands of minuscule LED bulbs that go on and off at set intervals, producing a darting image. Zooming in on the non-operative areas of the billboard, Daum enlarged those islands of black spots tenfold until he obtained an abstract, geometric video work reminiscent of modernist grid-like paintings such as Mondrian’s.

The work in Dead Leds is exhibited in close proximity to the paintings of Pointillist artists like Signac, in which little particles of paint mimic the processes of sight and the formation of images.

Dead Leds is the second in the Wall Works series, the first of which was “Tent” by Efrat Natan. 

Wall Work II: Dead Leds is on view through October 13 and is curated by Amitai Mendelsohn, Curator of the David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.

The David Orgler Department of Israeli Art
The foundations of the Israeli art collection at the Israel Museum were laid at the beginning of the 20th century with the establishment of the Bezalel Museum. The collection was begun with works by the teachers at its sister institution, the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts, the first modern artists in the Land of Israel. When the Bezalel Museum became the national museum in 1925, it adopted a policy of collecting local work and exhibiting it to a large and eager audience. This activity was particularly intense in the 1940s and reached a peak in the late 1950s and the 1960s, when Bezalel was the only public body in Israel to present exhibitions of contemporary Israeli avant-garde artists.

When the Israel Museum was established in 1965, it became the heir to the Bezalel Museum in all its holdings and character, and the collection of Israeli art continued apace. The Israeli Art unit was created as a separate department of the Art Wing in 1979, and from its first years the Israel Museum implemented an active program of acquisition, research, and exhibition of Israeli art. Directors and curators were strongly committed to this program and keenly aware that excellence in the field of Israeli art must be one of the Museum's priorities. Building the Pavilion of Israeli Art in 1985 afforded prime museological conditions for displaying art created in Israel.  

The works of Bezalel teachers from the early 20th century represent the first chapter in the annals of Israeli art, among them unique works such as Ze’ev Raban’s Elijah’s Chair and the large sketch for a carpet by E. M. Lilien, the greatest of the early Zionist artists.  

The Modernist revolution during the 1920s is represented by a group of works that have become icons of Israeli art, including paintings by Nahum Gutman, Reuven Rubin, Israel Paldi, and their peers. The sculptures of Rudi Lehmann stand out among the art of the 1930s and 1940s, as does Itzhak Danziger’s Nimrod, widely thought to be the most famous work of Israeli art.  

The next chapter in Israeli modernism opens in the 1950s and 1960s, with many works by artists such as Yossef Zaritsky, Yehezkel Streichman, and Arie Aroch, whose Agripas Street is considered one of the most important works created in Israel.  

The late modernism of the 1960s and 1970s is represented by salient holdings of the finest works of masters such as Moshe Kupferman, Michael Gross, Igael Tumarkin, and Raffi Lavie. The policy of acquiring works of young artists has made it possible for the Museum to amass a comprehensive body of art from the 1970s to the present, which is augmented and updated from year to year.  

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Israel Museum Joins Google Art Project, Launching Virtual Galleries with More Than 500 Collection Highlights

Innovative Project Enables Online Audiences to Explore Great Museums around the World

Jerusalem, Israel, April 3, 2012 – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, has today joined the Google Art Project, making its galleries and hundreds of highlights from its permanent collection accessible online to audiences around the world. The partnership is part of a major global expansion of the project which now counts 151 partners in 40 countries, an increase from 17 museums in nine countries when the project first launched in February 2011. More than 30,000 high resolution objects held in museums around the world are now available for viewing, up from the original 1,000 when the project was first launched.

The Google Art Project features 520 of the most important objects in the Israel Museum’s expansive collections, with high resolution images that allow viewers to examine works in exceptional detail, together with background information on objects and artists. Visitors may also explore the Museum’s campus and permanent galleries virtually, using Google’s Street View technology.
“The Israel Museum’s encyclopedic holdings are an invaluable resource, enriching our understanding and appreciation of global culture from prehistory to the present day,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “Our collections are universal, covering nearly every period and culture across the timeline of human history.  We are thrilled to extend our partnership with Google by joining the Google Art Project and bringing over 500 of our greatest treasures in the fine arts, archaeology of the ancient Holy Land, and Jewish world culture to audiences everywhere.”

Among the collection highlights on view through the Google Art Project are:

  • Neolithic Mask: Among the oldest known masks in existence, this carved human face belongs to a very rare group of stone masks dating back 9,000 years, found in the Judean Desert and its environs.
  • Bronze Medallion of Titus: This rare, ancient coin, from 80 CE, depicts the Colosseum in Rome, which was funded with booty seized from Judea after the suppression of the First Jewish Revolt.
  • Interior of 18th-century Vittorio Veneto Synagogue, Italy: This fully restored interior of an 18th-century synagogue from the small town of Vittorio Veneto near Venice, Italy, is elegantly designed in typical Italian Baroque style.
  • Jewelry of Jewish Brides in Djerba: These exquisitely decorated jewels, adorned with motifs of barley seeds, fish, birds, and hamsas believed to ensure  fertility and ward off the evil eye, were worn by Jewish brides on the North African island of Djerba.
  • Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, 1907: One of Monet’s tranquil and contemplative waterscapes, this work omits the surrounding landscape completely, with water extending to all four edges of the canvas.

“Google is committed to bringing art and culture online and making them universally accessible,” said Professor Yossi Matias, Managing Director of Google’s R&D Center in Israel. “The new expanded Art Project demonstrates our commitment to all types of art, cultures, and civilizations from around the globe. With just a few clicks, users can now discover an extensive selection of paintings, sculpture, street art, and photographs. The resolution of these images, combined with a custom built zoom viewer, allows art lovers to discover minute aspects of paintings and other objects they may never have seen up close.”

Key features of the expanded Google Art Project include:

  • Street View images are now displayed in finer quality than the original version of the Google Art Project, enabling smooth navigation of over 385 rooms within selected museums. Gallery interiors can also be explored directly from within Street View in Google Maps (
  • Users may browse content by artists’ names, artworks, types of art, museums, countries, collections, and time periods.
  • 44 museums selected one artwork to be photographed in exceptional detail using super high resolution, or ‘gigapixel,’ photo capturing technology. Each such image contains approximately 7 billion pixels, enabling viewers to study details of brushwork and patina beyond that possible with the naked eye.
  • The Create an Artwork Collection feature allows users to save specific views of any artworks and build their own personalized collections. Comments can be added to each painting, and whole collections can then be shared.

“This is an important day for Israeli culture and even more so for culture lovers all over the world,” said MK Limor Livnat, Minister of Culture and Sport.  “With Google Art’s innovative platform any cultural aficionado, anywhere in the world, can tour the Israel Museum virtually. While this is not the same as visiting the Museum in person, it is as close as one can get and highly inspiring. The technological progress experienced by the world in recent years transforms global culture too, and it’s great to have Israel in the picture.”

The partnership between the Israel Museum and Google follows their recent collaboration to make the Dead Sea Scrolls accessible online. Launched in the fall of 2011, the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project ( allows scholars and public alike to explore these ancient biblical texts at a level of detail never before possible.

Dr. Susan Hazan, Curator of New Media and Head of the Museum's Internet Office, directed the Israel Museum’s participation in the Google Art Project with Amalyah Keshet, Head of the Museum’s Image Resources & Copyright Management Department.

Further information on the Google Art Project 

See YouTube

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Israel Museum Exhibition Explores Passage from Day to Night and Universal Ritual of Falling Asleep

Jerusalem, March 27, 2012— A special exhibition opening in the Israel Museum’s Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education on March 29 will examine the passage from day to night and the universal human experience of falling asleep. Good Night remains on view through January 31, 2013.

Good Night explores the process of falling asleep as a ritual passage from one state of being to another, particularly in the world of children, where the experience of being put to bed ranges from reading books and singing lullabies to reassurances against natural anxieties about darkness, death, and the changing states of consciousness that accompany the transition into sleep. While most of the works on view address the ritual of sleep and the world inside the bedroom and in the sleeper’s head, others focus on the night-time world outside the bedroom and in the night sky.

The exhibition features approximately fifty works by contemporary artists from Israel and worldwide, among them Darren Almond, Jonas Dahlberg, Claire Fontaine, Dina Shenhav, and Mariana Vassileva, as well as objects of Jewish world culture and archaeology and illustrated books.

A number of works were created especially for the exhibition:

  • Lullaby, by Hadassa Goldvicht and Anat Vovnoboi, provides insights into childhood past and present, through lullabies sung in diverse language and melodies by Museum visitors and staff, presented as a site-specific, collage-like video work
  • Alma’s Blanket, by Julianne Swartz, bathes visitors in an aural experience of soothing words of comfort in English, Hebrew and Arabic emerging from sound speakers. The installation itself is also visible as an electronic blanket of solace, woven from colored electric cords designed according to the dimensions of a blanket belonging to the artist’s daughter, Alma
  • The Bed’s Dream, by Dena Shenhav, is constructed as a commentary on her son’s bedroom, with the objects and furniture in the room made of the same soft sponge-like material as the bedding, transforming the room into an intimate, caressing space
  • Sleepers, by Naomi Leshem, reveals teenagers from all over the world in varying states of sleep. The series of photographs captures moments at random, depicting the banal reality of teens in the time of deep sleep
  • Rain of Stars, by Ronit Agassi, comprises eleven black umbrellas and a single white one - representing the dark night sky and the moon – that hover over two iron beds. When light shines through the umbrellas, perforated images emerge, and are reflected in two mirrors arranged mattress-like on bed frames and with a puddle under each bed. The installation recalls the artist’s nightmares as a kibbutz member sleeping in the children’s house
  • Pastoral Slumber, by Gabriella Klein, is a site-specific mural that aims to awaken emotions like those a child feels when monsters emerge from the shadows of a dark bedroom. The mural, a striped sheet that can be viewed less ominously as a landscape of mountains and valleys, is painted directly on the museum wall

The exhibition also presents a number of interactive installations, among them:

  • The Goodnight Moon Room created by local artists as an immersive environment that mirrors the illustrated bedroom from the classic children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrator Clement Hurd

  • Starry Sky produced especially for the exhibition by Yair Reshef, which illuminates the room with stars radiating across the ceiling and stimulated by visitors’ movements

  • A uniquely devised space furnished with large, comfortable mattresses for playing and relaxing during story time.


    Good Night is curated by Kobi Ben Meir, Nordmann Family Associate Curator in the Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education. A bilingual catalogue accompanies the exhibition.

The exhibition website

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Israel Museum Receives Major Gift of Two Hundred Photographs
by Pioneering Documentary Photographer Eugène Atget

First Time in Israel: Atget Photographs of Paris at Turn of 20th Century to be presented at Ticho House 

Jerusalem, March 19, 2012 – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, today announced  the acquisition of 200 photographs by the pioneering French documentary photographer Eugène Atget (1857 – 1927), gifted by Pamela and George Rohr, New York, and an anonymous donor, New York. These works add an important new dimension to the Museum’s exceptional photography holdings, encompassing over 55,000 works from the earliest days of photography to contemporary times.

Seventy of these newly gifted works will be presented in Eugène Atget: As Paris Was, an exhibition at Ticho House, the Israel Museum’s historic venue in downtown Jerusalem, featuring Atget’s images of Paris from the mid-1890s until 1927. Marking the first ever presentation of the photographer’s work in Israel, the exhibition is curated by Nissan Perez, Horace and Grace Goldsmith Senior Curator in the Museum’s Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography.

French photographer Eugène Atget is recognized internationally for his integral role in the canon of documentary photography. After working as a sailor, actor, and painter for almost thirty years, he embarked on a self-assigned mission to document French life, culture, and history in and around Paris. He chose houses, streets, parks, and castles as his subjects, capturing interior and exterior details of architecture being transformed by modernity. Without any official recognition, this enterprise yielded a massive visual compendium of nearly 10,000 photographs that Atget loosely designated as “documents pour artistes” (documents for artists), created by means of anachronistic technology and an antiquated camera.

“We are deeply grateful to our donors for this generous gift of so important a trove of works by Eugène Atget, a pivotal figure in the history of photography,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “We are proud to be sharing Atget’s unique vision with Israeli audiences for the first time and in the resonant setting of our historic Ticho House, which also juxtaposes turn-of-the-last century Jerusalem with its encroaching modernity.”

“Atget’s photographs of Paris, including those featured in Eugène Atget: As Paris Was, do not depict the city as a bustling modern metropolis,” said exhibition curator Nissan Perez. “He trained his lens on the older, often decaying buildings and parks. The scenes he captured, mostly devoid of human presence, express desolation and solitude, reminiscent of an empty stage awaiting the actors’ entrance.”


The Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography at the Israel Museum

Since its opening in 1965, the Israel Museum has maintained a focus on the exploration and exhibition of photography. By the early 1970s, New York photographer Arnold Newman had begun acquiring photographs for the department, which was formally established in 1977, and in 2006, he bequeathed to the Museum seventy works by other photographers from his personal collection.

Over the years, the department has developed several areas of expertise, including important examples by the medium’s pioneering 19th-century practitioners, and photography of the Dada and Surrealist movements. It also features in-depth representations of such historically significant artists as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Andre Kertész, and Man Ray; and the 1998 gift of The Vera and Arturo Schwarz Collection of Dada and Surrealist Art added works of unequaled importance, further securing the Museum’s place among the leading such holdings in the field. The department also promotes contemporary Israeli photography through an active program of acquisitions as well as through individual and group exhibitions dedicated to the work of Israeli photographers.

In 2008, longtime patrons Harriette and Noel Levine donated their extensive photography collection to the Israel Museum, encompassing 125 photographs spanning over 160 years of the history of the medium. Their collection, considered one of the finest private holdings in the world, comprises works ranging from 19th-century British calotypes, to modernist masterpieces, to recent examples of contemporary work.

In 2009, the Israel Museum together with the Shpilman family and the Shpilman Art and Culture Foundation launched the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography, with the joint objectives of stimulating, encouraging, and cultivating international research projects in photography and of broadening the range of photographic investigations which integrate theoretical issues with practical ones. The $40,000 prize is awarded by an international jury once every two years, resulting in a publication by the Israel Museum, and if suitable, an exhibition. Nominations for the 2012 prize are being accepted until September 1, 2012. For more information, visit The department also awards the Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer, and the Kavlin Photography Prize for life achievement.

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Christian Marclay's Masterpiece The Clock Jointly Acquired by the Israel Museum, Centre Pompidou and Tate

Acclaimed Video Work Has Captivated Audiences Worldwide, Receiving Prestigious Golden Lion Award at 2011 Venice Biennale

Jerusalem, February 1, 2012 – The Israel Museum is pleased to announce the joint acquisition of Christian Marclay's video work The Clock (2010), together with the Centre Pompidou in Paris and London’s Tate. This internationally acclaimed masterwork of video art, which was on view at the Israel Museum from August through October 2011, is composed of thousands of film excerpts illuminating the passage of time by means of time-related references, among them images of clocks, watches, or announcements identifying specific times of the day. Marclay extracted each of these moments from its original context to form a 24-hour montage that unfolds according to his reconstruction in real time.

The Clock premiered in London in October, 2010, and has since been presented in New York, Los Angeles, Venice, Moscow, Boston, in Paris at the Centre Pompidou, and in Jerusalem at the Israel Museum. Twenty-four-hour screenings have attracted long lines and captivated audiences, with many viewers staying to absorb the work for hours at a time. Marclay won the coveted Golden Lion award at the 2011 Venice Biennale, where The Clock was featured in the central exhibition.

The work premiered at the Israel Museum on August 23, 2011, and remained on view for two months, during which it generated an enthusiastic public response and accolades from the press. Two 24-hour screenings drew approximately 3,500 visitors, while the entire run drew a total of 50,000 visitors. Screenings at the three museums are coordinated so that the work is only ever on view at one venue at any one time.

“We are pleased that this partnership with our colleagues at the Centre Pompidou and Tate enables all of us to share and enjoy with each of our audiences Marclay's exceptionally masterful creation,” says James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “This joint purchase will expand The Clock’s exposure to the widest possible international audience at the same time that it becomes an important addition to our ever-expanding holdings in contemporary art in Jerusalem.”

Nicholas Serota, Director of the Tate, said: “The joint acquisition of The Clock is a further example of Tate’s commitment to important media installations. We are delighted to yet again work in partnership with other major institutions, in this case Centre Pompidou and the Israel Museum, sharing the work with audiences across the world while also allowing the organisations to share expertise and raise the visibility of artists working in film and video.”

Alain Seban, President, Centre Pompidou said: "We are very pleased to be able to acquire this masterpiece in partnership between the three museums, especially thanks to the generosity of our major donors who responded to our request with such enthusiasm."

Synchronized with the local time at each exhibition venue, Marclay's The Clock conflates cinematic and actual time, revealing each passing minute as a wellspring of alternately suspenseful, tragic, and romantic narrative possibilities. By precisely referencing actual time wherever it is on display, The Clock transforms the usual sensation of artificial “cinematic time” into the thrilling sensation of real time in the exhibition gallery.

Collage has been a recurring strategy for American artist Christian Marclay since the late 1970s, when, as a pioneering turntablist, he began mixing sounds and recordings before turning to an ever wider range of mediums, including sculpture, photography, and performance. His video work often involves audiovisual assemblage compiled from film excerpts, recontextualizing fragments of modern movie culture into new creative compositions. The Israel Museum's contemporary art collection also includes Marclay's Virtuoso (2000), acquired in 2003.

The Israel Museum’s acquisition of The Clock has been made possible through the generosity of the Ostrovsky Family Fund in honor of the Museum’s 2010 Campus Renewal Project. Its presentation at the Museum was curated by Suzanne Landau, Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of the Fine Arts and Landeau Family Curator of Contemporary Art.

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Lily Safra Donates Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild 849-3 (1997) to the Israel Museum

Jerusalem - January 15, 2012 The Israel Museum announced today that longtime friend and patron Lily Safra has donated Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild 849-3 (1997) to the Museum in memory of her husband, Edmond J. Safra, a renowned philanthropist and one of the Museum’s greatest benefactors. The monumental abstract work, painted in shades of magenta and blue, is now on view in the Spertus Gallery at the entrance to the Museum’s Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, which was redesigned and reinstalled through the generosity of the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation as part of the Israel Museum’s campus renewal project, completed in July 2010

“It is an honor to celebrate my husband’s memory by presenting this extraordinary work to the Israel Museum, an institution for which he cared so deeply and which now provides an even more remarkable and beautiful setting thanks to its recent renewal,” said Lily Safra. “I cannot think of a better home for this painting, and I am gratified that it will inspire visitors from Israel and around the world for generations to come.”

“We are deeply grateful to Lily Safra for this generous gift and for Edmond’s and her incomparable support for the Israel Museum over a great many years,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “Abstraktes Bild 849-3 represents a major addition to our holdings in contemporary art, and we are thrilled that it is now part of the experience in visual culture that we provide for our audiences. We are also deeply gratified by the way in which this generosity underscores our Museum’s tradition of growing its collection through gifts of singular importance.”

Considered one of the most important artists of his generation, Gerhard Richter (b. 1932) has, since the 1960s, dedicated himself to painting, exploring the medium in still life, vivid abstract works, and monochromatic figurative paintings based on photography. Abstraktes Bild 849-3 is the third and final painting in a series that explores abstract gesture and bold coloration and caps an extended period of investigation in the field of abstraction. The 2 x 3 meter painting contains layers of color scraped across a seemingly endless expanse of canvas, demonstrating Richter’s unique method of constructing paintings gradually, alternately applying layers of paint and then spreading and scraping them with a squeegee, leaving traces of each of his actions on the canvas. In this set of paintings (849), the artist completed the creative process by peeling portions of the dried outer layer from the surface, creating a damaged look which also provides a window into his artistic process. The Israel Museum’s collection also includes Richter’s Abstraktes Bild (red, blurred) 743-3 (1991), on permanent loan from a private collection.
The longstanding relationship between the Israel Museum and Edmond and Lily Safra extends from the time of the Museum’s founding by Teddy Kollek and includes major support for such acquisitions as Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity manuscript, as well as ongoing operating support. In 2009, the Israel Museum announced a $12-million gift from the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation for the renewal, reinstallation, and endowment of the Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing.

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Rubens Masterwork Featured in Illuminating Focus Exhibition at the Israel Museum

Peter Paul Rubens, Death of Adonis (ca. 1614)

Jerusalem, January 4, 2012 - Inaugurating a new series of in-depth exhibitions exploring masterpieces from its encyclopedic collections, the Israel Museum presents an exhibition that sheds new light on The Death of Adonis (ca. 1614) by Flemish Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens. On view from January 10 through May 5, 2012, Rubens, Venus, and Adonis: Anatomy of a Tragedy examines this monumental masterpiece, analyzing its iconographic sources, composition, and place within the development of Rubens’ style. Twenty-five related works—including a preparatory oil sketch by Rubens as well as drawings, paintings, and prints of the same theme by Rubens and other Flemish and Italian masters of his time—are brought together to illuminate aspects of the artist's special interest in the story of Venus, the goddess of Love and Beauty, and Adonis, her human lover.

“This exhibition presents a unique opportunity for audiences to explore in depth The Death of Adonis, a masterwork of Baroque art, in a visually illuminating context that highlights the significance of Peter Paul Rubens and of his work,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “We are grateful for the beneficial collaboration of many generous colleagues and friends around the world who amplified our project’s goal with essential loans, and without whom this comprehensive look at Rubens’ creative method and the forces and influences that shaped this masterful work would not have been possible.”

Known for his lavish large-scale compositions overflowing with voluptuous women, chubby cherubs, and mythological characters, Rubens painted canvases that epitomized the aesthetic ideals of the Low Countries in the 17th century. He was exposed to Renaissance painting, Classical sculpture and Humanist literature through his travels to Italy and Spain, and The Death of Adonis represents the luscious style he developed following a prolonged stay in Italy. The painting depicts the tragic moment when Venus discovers the body of her dying lover, Adonis, gored by a wild boar while hunting.

When it was given to the Museum in 2000, The Death of Adonis provided a first opportunity for visitors to explore the powerful imagery of Rubens at his most masterful. Now chosen to inaugurate the “Focus” series, this remarkable work is illuminated by research conducted by European Art Curator Shlomit Steinberg and contextualized by related works from the Museum’s own collection and by loans from other collections. The exhibition presents a complete “dossier” of preparatory sketches and other works on the same subject by Rubens and his circle, as well as primary literary sources and works by other artists relating to the painting and its theme. Together, this ensemble offers a glimpse into the deeply focused process—in the artist's mind and in his studio—through which a great work of art is created.

The exhibition is curated by Shlomit Steinberg, Hans Dichand Curator of European Art. A catalogue in English and Hebrew—the first publication in Israel devoted to Rubens—accompanies the exhibition.

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Revelatory Exhibition at the Israel Museum Charts New Territory in Contemporary Design

Jerusalem, January 1, 2012 - The Israel Museum presents a new exhibition that challenges our definitions of design and encourages a new discourse about the role design plays in shaping our world. Curious Minds: New Approaches in Design, which opened on December 16, 2011 and remains on view through April 14, 2012, focuses on mapping out new territories in today’s design arena. Today’s technology is allowing a new generation of designers to transcend previously conventional models of design development and manufacture. However, unlike their predecessors, many of these young designers do not reject the past in favor of new technologies, but rather draw inspiration from historical models to develop projects that combine the traditional with the new. Among the nearly forty works on display in the exhibition are works by Maria Blaisse, El Último Grito, Julius Popp, rAndom International, Raw Edges, Stefan Sagmeister, Studio Drift, Troika, and others—altogether representing twenty seven designers and studios from fifteen countries worldwide.

For the past few decades, designers have explored digital and interactive technologies to produce innovative work and, under the umbrella of “critical design,” used design to ask probing questions about human behavior and to address the social, cultural, and ethical consequences of emerging technologies. Curious Minds focuses attention on designers who challenge mainstream design and consumer culture in various ways. Although they represent a rich diversity of design practice, their work reveals a shared curiosity about life and often contains elements of playfulness.

James Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum states, “While each of these designers embraces the potential of new technologies, they do so in order to create works that are as much about beauty, poetry, and inspiration as about technology itself, relating in rich ways to the history of traditional art, craft, and design.”

Works in the exhibition are presented in four categories: Post Digital – Poetic Gestures; Future Scenarios; The Process of Making; and Design – Real Time.

Highlights include:

• Troika's Falling Light (2010), originally commissioned by Swarovski Crystal Palace, a specially designed mechanical device that creates showers of small drops of light. As each droplet hits the floor, it is encircled by a vibrantly hued halo radiating outward, a phenomenon made possible by the intrinsic qualities of optically pure, custom-cut Swarovski crystal lenses.

• A segment from Stefan Sagmeister's much anticipated The Happy Film (with Hillman Curtis), which analyzes strategies recommended by psychologists for improving personal happiness and overall wellbeing. Questions such as “Is it possible to train our minds in the same way that we train our bodies?” and “Can we change our behavior to make ourselves happier?” are addressed in this documentary, in which Sagmeister experiments with a long list of strategies—from the sublime to the ridiculous—and reports the results.

• Julius Popp's Bit.Fall (2002–2006), a mechanical device that produces a curtain of cascading words composed of water drops that are selected randomly from an algorithmic program that locates key words from news websites and search engines. As virtual information is translated into physical form on its surface, the water curtain symbolizes the overflow of information that inundates our daily lives in the digital age—while nonetheless doing so in an entrancingly beautiful way.

• Fragile Future 3 (2011) by Studio Drift, an interactive installation that fuses nature—in the form of dandelion seeds—and technology—with circuits made of laser-cut and bent phosphor bronze that conduct electricity to each of the seeds, which are individually attached to LED lights. The fusion between nature and technology suggests a future scenario in which the natural and man-made technological worlds can coexist.

Curious Minds is curated by Alex Ward, Senior Curator, Department of Design and Architecture.

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 Angels at the Israel Museum: Divine Messengers in Art

On view from December 20, 2011 – Just in time for the holidays, a new exhibition at the Israel Museum explores the theme of angels in art. Divine Messengers: Angels in Art, featuring 30 works culled mainly from the Israel Museum collection, presents the angel not only as a creature that travels between different worlds, but also as one that is common to all  humankind regardless of time, place, and faith. On display are Paul Klee's masterwork Angelus Novus (1920), works by the Baroque painters Govaert Flinck, Pieter Lastman and Pedro Orrente, prints by Gustave Dore depicting scenes from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, paintings from the Cuzco Spanish-colonial school, Islamic art, and illuminated Jewish marriage contracts. The exhibition is on view from December 20, 2011 - October 27, 2012.

Throughout the centuries, artists have attempted to portray the familiar yet mysterious figure of the angel – those winged, ageless spiritual beings variously known as cupids, cherubs, seraphs, or archangels. In Christian art, angels are traditionally portrayed as winged children very similar to cupids – or putti as they are sometimes called – youngsters whose gender is ambiguous and who have large wings attached to their shoulder blades. This image probably derives from representations of Hermes, messenger of the gods in Greek mythology. As bearers of God's message, angels, cherubs, and seraphs feature prominently in Christian art, which is closely related to the stories of the Bible.

This highly influential visual tradition left its mark on Jewish art as well, as seen, for example, in illuminated ketubbot (Jewish marriage contracts) from Italy and North Africa, in which protective angels surround the bride and groom under the wedding canopy. Angels conceived as sublime creatures endowed with magical powers are also found in illuminated manuscripts and miniatures from Islamic countries, which describe scenes from the lives of the Prophet Muhammad and famous poets.

Divine Messengers also features a number of works of 20th-century and Israeli art. In spite – or perhaps because – of the crisis of faith engendered by World War II, the angel is still present in Modern and contemporary art, including cinema, often portrayed as a rebellious or lost creature without a place of its own neither above nor below.

The exhibition is curated by Shlomit Steinberg, Hans Dichand Curator of European Art.

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About the Israel Museum

The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the world’s leading art and archaeology museums. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections, including works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. In just 45 years, thanks to a legacy of gifts and generous support from its circle of patrons worldwide, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects, representing the full scope of world material culture.

In the summer of 2010, the Israel Museum completed the most comprehensive upgrade of its 20-acre campus in its history, featuring new galleries, entrance facilities, and public spaces. The three-year expansion and renewal project was designed to enhance visitor experience of the Museum’s collections, architecture, and surrounding landscape, complementing its original design by Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad. Led by James Carpenter Design Associates of New York and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects of Tel Aviv, the project also included the complete renewal and reconfiguration of the Museum’s Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing, Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, and Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life.

Among the highlights of the Museum’s original campus is the Shrine of the Book, designed by Armand Bartos and Frederick Kiesler, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest biblical manuscripts in the world, as well as rare early medieval biblical manuscripts. Adjacent to the Shrine is the Model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple Period, which reconstructs the topography and architectural character of the city as it was prior to its destruction by the Romans in 66 CE, and provides historical context to the Shrine’s presentation of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Museum’s celebrated Billy Rose Art Garden, designed for the original campus by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, is counted among the finest outdoor sculpture settings of the 20th century. An Oriental landscape combined with an ancient Jerusalem hillside, the garden serves as the backdrop for the Israel Museum’s display of the evolution of the modern western sculptural tradition. On view are works by modern masters including Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Claes Oldenburg, Pablo Picasso, Auguste Rodin, and David Smith, together with more recent site-specific commissions by such artists as Magdalena Abakanowicz, Mark Dion, James Turrell, and Micha Ullman.

The Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education, unique in its size and scope of activities, presents a wide range of programming to more than 100,000 schoolchildren each year, and features exhibition galleries, art studios, classrooms, a library of illustrated children’s books, and a recycling room. Special programs foster intercultural understanding between Arab and Jewish students and reach out to the wide spectrum of Israel’s communities.

In addition to the extensive programming offered on its main campus, the Israel Museum also operates two off-site locations: the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, an architectural gem built in 1938 for the display of archaeology from ancient Israel; and Ticho House, which offers an ongoing program of exhibitions by younger Israeli artists in a historic house and garden setting.

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