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Press Room 2014
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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.
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World's Oldest Masks United for First Time at the Israel Museum 

Jerusalem, March 5, 2014 – The Israel Museum brings together for the first time a rare group of 9,000-year-old stone masks, the oldest known to date, in a groundbreaking exhibition opening in March. Culminating nearly a decade of research, Face to Face: The Oldest Masks in the World showcases twelve extraordinary Neolithic masks, all originating in the same region in the ancient Land of Israel. On view from March 11 through September 13, 2014, the exhibition marks the first time that this group will be displayed together, in their birthplace, and the first time that the majority of them will be on public view. 

Mask, Nahal Hemar cave, Judean Desert
Neolithic period, 9,000 years ago

Originating from the Judean Hills and nearby Judean Desert, the twelve masks on view each share striking stylistic features. Large eye holes and gaping mouths create the expression of a human skull. Perforations on the periphery may have been used for wearing them, for the attachment of hair, which would have given the masks a more human appearance, or for suspending the masks from pillars or other constructed forms. Based on similarities with other cultic skulls of ancestors found in villages of the same period, the masks are believed to have represented the spirits of dead ancestors, used in religious and social ceremonies and in rites of healing and magic. By recreating human images for cultic purposes, the early agricultural societies of Neolithic times may have been expressing their increasing mastery of the natural world and reflecting their growing understanding of the nature of existence.

"It is extraordinary to be able to present side by side this rare group of ancient stone masks, all originating from the same region in the ancient Land of Israel," said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. "That we have been able to assemble so many – first for intensive comparative research and then for display – is a tribute to the collections that were so cooperative in making these treasures available to us. And, given their origins in the region and the context provided by the adjacent setting of our Archaeology Wing, their display in our Museum in Jerusalem carries special meaning, underscoring their place in the unfolding history of religion and art."

The current presentation is the result of more than a decade of research. For many years, the Israel Museum has held in its collections two Neolithic stone masks–one from a cave at Nahal Hemar in the Judean Desert and the other from Horvat Duma in the nearby Judean Hills. A chance discovery of photographs of similar masks led Dr. Debby Hershman, the Museum’s Curator of Prehistoric Cultures, to begin to research the subject. Hershman enlisted the assistance of Professor Yuval Goren, an expert in comparative microarchaeology at Tel Aviv University, to explore the masks' geographical origins, as well as of the computerized archaeology laboratory at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to conduct 3-D analysis that shed light on their comparative features and functions. The current display reflects the fruits of this in-depth research, bringing together twelve striking and enigmatic masks near the place of their origin and for the first time.

Face to Face is curated by Dr. Debby Hershman, Ilse Katz Leibholz Curator of Prehistoric Cultures. The exhibition and its accompanying publication were made possible through the generosity of Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York, and with additional support from the donors to the Museum’s 2014 Exhibition Fund: Claudia Davidoff, Cambridge, MA, in memory of Ruth and Leon Davidoff; Hanno D. Mott, New York; the Nash Family Foundation, New York; and Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Foundation in Israel.

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Last Chance to See Herod Exhibition, Closing on January 4, 2014
Record-breaking 415,000 visitors have already seen the blockbuster exhibition



Jerusalem, December 11, 2013 – This month marks the last chance to visit this year’s most celebrated exhibition, Herod the Great: The King’s Final Journey, which has already hosted 415,000 visitors. Due to high demand in anticipation of the exhibition’s closing on January 4, 2014, the Israel Museum is adding special opening hours for the public to view Herod on Thursday nights throughout the month of December for NIS 20.

Since its opening ten months ago, Herod has generated enthusiastic discussion among its hundreds of thousands of visitors, as well as in the Israeli and international press. The exhibition was viewed by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, visiting dignitaries, government officials, groups from around the world, historians, archeologists, soldiers, students, and teachers. Visitors enjoyed special tours, an audio guide, children’s tours, and gallery talks. In addition, the extensive exhibition catalogue has consistently been a best-seller in the Museum shops.

Herod is the first exhibition devoted in its entirety to King Herod, one of the most fascinating and controversial figures in ancient Roman and Jewish history. The exhibition’s narrative of Herod and his journey in death – from the palace in Jericho where he died to his burial site at Herodium – sparked renewed interest in his life and in-depth discussion about the time in which he lived. Exhibition co-curators David Mevorach and Dr. Silvia Rozenberg hosted many visitors and participated in lectures, seminars, and special events devoted to Herod and his time. The exhibition has also inspired articles, books, and seminars on the topic, and lead to the doubling of the number of visitors to Herodium National Park.

Herod presents approximately 250 archaeological finds from the king’s recently discovered tomb at Herodium, as well as from Jericho and other related sites, to shed light on the political, architectural, and aesthetic impact of Herod’s reign from 37 to 4 BCE, supporting his reputation as one of the area's greatest builders of all time. The centerpiece of the exhibition is the burial chamber from the mausoleum, discovered after a forty-year search by Prof. Ehud Netzer, from the Hebrew University.

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Netzer, who fell to his death in 2010 at the very site in which he made his significant archeological breakthrough.

The exhibition website

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Israel Museum Presents its 2013-4 Winter Exhibition Season Showcasing Israeli and International Contemporary Art 

4x4: Four Exhibitions, Four Months on view December 3, 2013 - April 5, 2014

Jerusalem, November 25 – This winter, the Israel Museum launches a series of exhibitions that spotlight a roster of internationally acclaimed and emerging artists from Israel, in the greater context of the international contemporary art scene. COLLECTING DUST in Contemporary Israeli Art examines the work of fifteen artists who transform dust into contemporary works of art exploring temporality, memory, and Israel’s environmental landscape. Continuing the theme of remembrance is the first-ever retrospective of Gideon Gechtman, whose oeuvre explored how art can act as a posthumous memorial. Also on view is the first solo exhibition in Israel of Mika Rottenberg, whose work examines the role of women in society and the repercussions of an increasingly digital world.  Related to this theme, the Museum is presenting an exhibition drawn from its encyclopaedic collections in the fine arts and archaeology that shows, as it were, the "roots" of contemporary art, from prehistory onward. Out of Body: Fragmentation in Art focuses on works of art that were created as distinct parts of the human body, from Egyptian amulets from the third and second millennia BCE through contemporary works by leading contemporary and Israeli artists. All four exhibition are on view from December 3, 2013, through April 5, 2014.

COLLECTING DUST in Contemporary Israeli Art 


Gal Weinstein, Dust Cloud, 2009

The pervasive presence of dust – as matter or metaphor – is the thread that connects the works on view in this exhibition. A century after Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray’s seminal Dust Breeding, the artists whose works comprise this presentation give their own interpretations of dust’s enigmatic nature. Whether focusing on intimate or remote surroundings – in the studio, in the city, or in the expanses of the desert – they engage with the medium of dust to probe such perennial issues as the passing of time, creation and erosion, presence and absence.

COLLECTING DUST presents 45 works from the last decade by Israeli artists active in the fields of painting, photography, installation, and video, among them Ilit Azoulay, Gilad Efrat, Irit Hemmo, Dana Levy, Micha Ullman, Gal Weinstein, Sharon Ya'ari, and Yuval Yairi. The exhibition is curated by guest curator Tamar Manor-Friedman.

Gal Weinstein's Dust Cloud series (2009), which opens the exhibition, presents clouds of volcanic ash using steel wool in a sequence of quasi-scientific images that develop towards a threatening climax. In his photographic Rashi Street series, Sharon Ya'ari focuses not on the vibrant city of Tel Aviv that constantly reinvents itself, but rather on the fumes of demolition and thunder of urban renovation.

 

Gideon Gechtman: 1942–2008


Archive, 2003

This first retrospective of the work of Israeli artist Gideon Gechtman, five years following his death, examines four decades of his creative oeuvre. It presents approximately 120 objects, encompassing a wide range of media—installation, sculpture, painting, photography, video, and print. Gechtman was among the pioneers who introduced radical change into the definition of artistic action in Israel and worldwide. At the age of 31, he underwent open-heart surgery to treat a heart condition that had been diagnosed in his childhood. This seminal event led him to an intense exploration of issues relating to illness, mortality, bereavement, and memory, and of the ways in which works of art can serve as posthumous memorials. In the 1970s, Gechtman began to treat his artistic output as a personal mausoleum, designed to preserve his work and self after his death. Gideon Gechtman is a comprehensive survey of his work in both deeply personal and broadly universal ways.

Gechtman's 2003 work Archive is a mausoleum-like reconstruction of the tiered graves in the cemetery of Port Bou, Spain, the burial place of philosopher and critical theorist Walter Benjamin, to whom the work is dedicated. Contained in the niches are various handmade objects that reference elements of Gechtman’s earlier oeuvre and serve as a narrative of his artistic career, preserved in this posthumous installation. The exhibition is curated by Aya Miron, Associate Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.

Squeeze: Video Works by Mika Rottenberg  


Squeeze, 2010

The first solo presentation in Israel of video and installation artist Mika Rottenberg, this exhibition presents six video works by the artist, spanning a decade of artistic creativity. Known for her use of the human body in extreme, poetic, and critical ways, Rottenberg creates out-of-the-ordinary assembly lines, in which actresses with unusual physical attributes and abilities become part of an absurd manufacturing process that produces a variety of nameless products using substances such as sweat, hair, and cosmetic powder. Born in Buenos Aires and raised in Tel Aviv, Rottenberg’s work examines the role of women in society, the tension between man and machine, and the role of the handmade in an increasingly global, commercial, and hyper-technological age. The exhibition is curated by Amitai Mendelsohn, Curator of the David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.

Out of Body: Fragmentation in Art 


August Rodin, Hand of Rodin with Torso, 1917

Human body parts – hands, feet, torsos, and various organs – are the subject of this exhibition of approximately 200 works of art and archaeological artifacts from across the Israel Museum’s collections and on loan from collections in Israel and worldwide. As distinct from a display of objects that were discovered as fragments of ancient artifacts that were once whole, Out of Body focuses on works that were originally created in parts, exploring ways in which diverse cultures rendered aspects of the human body in different periods of time. Objects on display include prehistoric artifacts, Egyptian amulets, Etruscan and Hellenistic votive offerings, European ex-votos, Jewish cult objects, and works of modern and contemporary art in painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation. Featured artists include Hans Bellmer, Marcel Duchamp, Robert Gober, Sigalit Landau, Hila Lulu Lin, Annette Messager, Man Ray, Auguste Rodin, and Sasha Serber, among others. Out of Body is curated by Tanya Sirakovich, Michael Bromberg Head Curator of Prints and Drawings.

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Innovative Exhibition from Venice Biennale of Architecture on Display at the Israel Museum


Florian Holzherr, Ayalon Mall, 2012

Jerusalem, 
October 16
 - the Israel Museum announces the presentation of the exhibition Aircraft Carrier: American Ideas and Israeli Architectures, originally organized for the Israeli pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia in 2012. This inventive exhibition explores the dramatic changes in Israeli architecture beginning in 1973, focusing on the influence of the United States. It takes its name from the famous line by Alexander Haig, US Secretary of State under Ronald Reagan, who stated that "Israel is the largest American aircraft carrier in the world that cannot be sunk." Five leading Israeli and international artists and architectural photographers – Assaf Evron, Fernando Guerra, Florian Holzherr, Nira Pereg, and Jan Tichy – were invited to reflect upon the major architectural phenomena that demonstrate the dramatic shift of Israel from a socialist welfare state into a booming free market. In addition to the works of architectural photography, sculpture, and installation, Aircraft Carrier includes thirty unique, whimsical merchandise objects, each one representing a key event in US-Israel relations, created in collaboration with product designer Tal Erez.

The eventful year of 1973 was a critical turning point for Israel’s social, economic, and political structures, as well as American strategic interest in the Middle East, with the surge of global capitalism in the background. Together, these elements radically transformed Israeli architecture. Rather than viewing the history of Israeli architecture as a succession of exemplary projects, Aircraft Carrier focuses on clusters of associations, influences, and innovations that can be considered as defining phenomena in the field. Four of these phenomena identified in this exhibition are: “Signals” – attempts by private companies and individuals to proclaim their social and political power through the building of projects; “Emporiums” – the rapid transformation of the Israeli socioeconomic model from socialist austerity to hyper-consumerism; “Allies” – collaborations between the State and the private sector working together in the promotion of national goals; and “Flotillas” – the segregation of space into distinct environments with parallel architectures, built for different sub-societies. The combination of these phenomena exposes Israel as a place of paradox in which the operations of free markets rely on State mechanisms and extraordinary innovation can lead to extraordinary conservatism. The built environments that emerged from these contradictions reflect the strange but solid embedding of liberal and capitalist principles in the foundation of a country that was known as a socialist welfare state. 

The exhibition is introduced by a "store," in which visitors are invited to buy custom-made merchandise items designed by Tal Erez especially for the project. Each one of the items represents a key event in the history of US-Israel relations and includes: bobbing head dolls of the Camp David trio Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter, and Anwar Sadat; "neo-liberal" alms boxes featuring Uncle Sam; "send a settlement" postcards; black fist stress balls in the spirit of the Israeli Black Panther movement of the 1970s; and "sweet 16" M-16 chocolate bars in commemoration of the massive weapon airlift that saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War. 

Aircraft Carrier is on view from November 3, 2013 to January 4, 2014, and is curated by guest curators Erez Ella, Milana Gitzin-Adiram, and Dan Handel, who created the exhibition for the Biennale. 

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74 Works by Richard Avedon Donated to the Israel Museum

Jerusalem, September 8 - The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, today announced the gift of a cohesive body of portraiture by Richard Avedon - totaling 74 photographs created between 1969 and 1976 - through the collaboration of three donors. The unprecedented gift was initiated by Leonard Lauder, who upon learning that Avedon’s work was not represented in the Israel Museum’s collection, invited the Richard Avedon Foundation and Larry Gagosian - whose gallery represents the Foundation - to join him in ensuring that the photographer’s work would be properly reflected within the Museum’s encyclopedic holdings.  This joint gift will be on view at the Israel Museum in spring 2014 as part of its Focus on the Collection exhibition series and builds on the Museum’s 50-year history of collecting photography, further distinguishing it as one of the world’s leading holdings with more than 75,000 images.

The gift consists of:

• Avedon’s iconic 20 x 8 foot photographic mural Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970 (printed 1993), given by Leonard A. Lauder through his foundation The American Contemporary Art Foundation, Inc.

• A complete set of the artist’s four smaller-format murals, created between 1969 and 1971, given jointly by Mr. Gagosian and The Richard Avedon Foundation. Each image depicts a group of distinctive Americans of the time:  Andy Warhol and members of The Factory, New York, October 30, 1969 (printed 1975); The Chicago Seven, Chicago, Illinois, November 5, 1969 (printed 1969); The Mission Council, Saigon, South Vietnam, April 28, 1971 (printed 1975); and Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970 (printed 1999).

• The Family (printed 1976), a portfolio of 69 prints that was first published in Rolling Stone magazine, given by Mr. Lauder and Mr. Gagosian. Each 8 x 10 inch photograph depicts an individual from America’s political, financial, and intellectual elite of the time.

“We are pleased that this core collection will now become a part of the photography holdings of the Israel Museum,” said James Martin, executive director of The Richard Avedon Foundation. “We believe that Richard Avedon, who was so proud of his Jewish identity, would be very happy to see this important body of work exhibited in Jerusalem.”

“The Israel Museum is tremendously grateful to Leonard Lauder, The Richard Avedon Foundation, and Larry Gagosian for this wonderful gift and this exemplary model of patronage,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “Leonard, the Foundation, and Larry clearly understood how important it was to have Avedon represented in our collection, and their vision and generosity have provided us with a cohesive body of work of one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.”

Avedon began his career in the mid-1940s as a genre-bending fashion photographer, who introduced narrative elements into traditional fashion spreads. In 1969, Avedon adopted what would become his signature portrait style - subjects posed singly and in groups against stark white backgrounds that allowed individuals’ distinct personalities to emerge. The works gifted to the Israel Museum capture this moment of transition in Avedon’s career and demonstrate his central role as an artist who chronicled an era of conflicting ideas, radical politics, and shifting social mores.

Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970 is part of a series of photographic murals, unprecedented in scale, that Avedon began to create in 1969. Photographed within an 18-month period, these murals were groundbreaking for their multiple panels as well as their socially conscious and provocative subjects. Avedon took the 20-foot-long photograph of the counterculture poet, Allen Ginsberg, and his extended family at a party in honor of the publication of a new book by Ginsberg’s father, Louis.

The four small murals from this same series, given by The Richard Avedon Foundation, include: Andy Warhol and members of The Factory, New York, October 30, 1969, which captures a pivotal moment in Warhol’s public persona following the attempt on his life by Valerie Solanas, the move out of the Silver Factory, and the increasingly commercial success of his art; The Chicago Seven, Chicago, Illinois, November 5, 1969, which features the radicals charged with crossing state lines with the intention of inciting a riot at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago; The Mission Council, Saigon, South Vietnam, April 28, 1971, a group portrait of the military leaders who masterminded America’s engagement during the Vietnam War; and Allen Ginsberg’s family, Paterson, New Jersey, May 3, 1970, a 30-inch print of the same image reproduced in the larger mural.

The Family is a powerful document of the American establishment captured by Avedon in the wake of Watergate, during the 1976 Carter-Ford presidential campaigns and published that same year in Rolling Stone magazine. It includes 69 individual portraits of members of the American elite, including politicians, union leaders, bankers, CEOs, publishers, and journalists, who, despite differing political persuasions, reflected the homogeneity of American social power at the time.

“The American Contemporary Art Foundation believes in the importance of sharing the work of American artists as widely as possible,” said Leonard Lauder, president of the Foundation. “The Israel Museum already holds a strong representation of works by leading 20th-century American practitioners in photography, with the notable exception of Avedon.   It was important to me that one of our nation’s most influential masters be represented significantly in this distinguished collection.”

“Richard Avedon’s work has been a personal passion of mine since I first saw his large-scale murals and showed his work in my Los Angeles gallery in the mid-1970s,” said Larry Gagosian, owner of the Gagosian Gallery. “Avedon profoundly impacted 20th-century portraiture, and his influence continues to reverberate today.  I am delighted to play a role in ensuring that a significant body of his work now enters one of the world’s renowned museum collections.”

About Richard Avedon and The Richard Avedon Foundation

Considered among the most influential photographic artists of the 20th century, Richard Avedon (1923-2004) began his professional career in 1942 in the U.S. Merchant Marine Photographic Department and then attended the Design Laboratory at the New School. He began his work as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar in 1945, eventually joining the staff at Vogue magazine, where he would remain until 1988. In 1992 he was named the first staff photographer for The New Yorker. He received a Master of Photography Award from the International Center for Photography, and his work is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, along with countless other museums and institutions worldwide. He is the only photographer to have had two major exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and a 2007 retrospective exhibition organized by the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark traveled to Milan, Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, and San Francisco. Avedon established The Richard Avedon Foundation during his lifetime. Based in New York, the Foundation is the repository for Avedon’s photographs, negatives, publications, papers, and archival materials.

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

Since opening in 1965, the Israel Museum has maintained a focus on the exploration and exhibition of photography. Its comprehensive collection marks the Museum as a leader among encyclopedic museums in holdings of this medium. Over the years, through selected acquisitions, as well as gifts from key donors such as Arnold Newman, Arturo Schwarz, and Noel and Harriette Levine, the department’s collection has grown to comprise more than 75,000 works from the earliest days of photography to contemporary times. Areas of expertise include pioneering 19th-century practitioners and photography of the Dada and Surrealist movements, as well as in-depth representations of such historically significant artists as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Andre Kertész, and Man Ray. 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 addition, the department awards three photography prizes, the Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer, the Kavlin Photography Prize for life achievement, and the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography.

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Rare Botticelli Fresco from Uffizi Gallery in Florence on Special Loan to the Israel Museum


Sandro Botticelli, The Annunciation, 1481

Jerusalem, September 2, 2013 – This rare fresco, the first work by Botticelli to be exhibited in Israel, is on display as a special loan from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence in honor of the State of Israel's 65th anniversary. The Annunciation, created by Sandro Botticelli in the spring of 1481, originally hung over the entrance of San Martino della Scala, a hospital for those stricken with the plague. During renovations to the hospital structure during the 17th century, the fresco suffered considerable damage, and, in 1920, it was dismantled and moved to the Uffizi, where it underwent a thorough restoration process. Despite its considerable size of 243 x 553 cm. (8 x 18 ft.), it has served as an "ambassador" of the Uffizi on prior occasions, having travelled previously to Germany and China. It is on view at the Israel Museum from September 18, 2013, through January 10, 2014.  

"The Museum is deeply honored to have the privilege to display so masterful a work of the Italian Renaissance." said James Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. "We are also grateful for the opportunity to work with the Italy-Israel Foundation for Culture and the Arts, together with the Uffizi Gallery, to demonstrate the importance of international cultural exchange in such an appropriate and celebratory way.” 

Sandro Botticelli, (born Alessandro di Moriano Filipepi, (ca. 1445-1510), was one of the greatest painters of the Florentine Renaissance. He began his training under Fra Filippo before opening his own workshop in 1470. Botticelli's understanding of perspective, architectural design, and anatomy was exceptional, and The Annunciation offers a rare example of a composition in linear perspective created for a liturgical purpose.

The subject of the Archangel Gabriel’s visit and his words to Mary recurs throughout the history of Christian art. In Italian depictions of the Annunciation, Mary is frequently portrayed reading or embroidering in a portico or in the courtyard of her house. In the chilly Low Countries of northern Europe, she was most often depicted indoors. Although Botticelli adopts the Flemish tradition of placing the reading Virgin indoors, he also creates, in Florentine style, a fascinating interplay of indoors and outdoors, with Gabriel shown entering the porch of the house and gliding toward Mary, holding a white lily, a symbol of her virginity. 

The loan of this masterpiece by one of the greatest artists of the Italian Renaissance is the result of a collaborative effort by the Museum and the Italy-Israel Foundation for Culture and the Arts, which aims to strengthen the ties between the two countries through cultural exchange, with additional support from the Embassy of Italy in Israel, Banca Intesa Sanpaolo, Allianz, and Mana Contemporary, and with the cooperation of the Italian Cultural Institute in Tel Aviv. This presentation also inaugurates a series over the coming two years to showcase important Italian Renaissance and Baroque masterworks from major Italian institutions at the Museum. This inaugural display at the Museum is curated by Shlomit Steinberg, Hans Dichand Curator of European Art. 

More about the exhibition

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Europe's Pioneering Jewish Artists Celebrated in New Exhibition


Maurycy Gottlieb, Jesus in Front of his Judges, 1877-1879 

Jerusalem, August 29, 2013 – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, presents an exhibition exploring the work of fourteen pioneering Jewish artists living in 19th-century Europe. Each of these artists, representing the first and second generations of Jews to enter the art world previously closed to them, straddled the fine line between maintaining their Jewish origins while pursuing a field in which they depicted nudes and even Christian subjects for their patrons. Making an Entrance: Jewish Artists in 19th-Century Europe also challenges the long-held premise that the "first Jewish artist" was Moritz Daniel Oppenheim, protégée of the Rothschild family, and presents the works of the lesser-known artists Salomon Pinhas from Kassel and Jacob Liepmann from Berlin, who worked in Germany at the very beginning of the 19th century. 

Making an Entrance features 40 paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures by artists such as Mark Antokolsky, Vico d'Ancona, Maurycy Gottlieb, Jozef Israëls, Isidor Kaufmann, Isaac I. Levitan, and Charlotte von Rothschild, drawn from the Museum's collection and from private collections, many of which have been rarely seen by the public. Highlights include Pinhas' 1808 portraits of "Father of Reform Judaism" Israel Jacobson and his wife Mink Samson-Jacobson, d'Ancona's Sleeping Nude (1860s), Oppenheim's The Return of The Jewish Volunteer from the Army to his Family (1834), and Gottlieb's Jesus in Front of his Judges (1877-1879). 

Beginning in the nineteenth century, artistically talented young Jews sought to enter a world closed to their predecessors where they could channel their creativity toward painting and not limit themselves to the crafting of objects with a religious function. This meant challenging the ancient prohibition against graven images and often, by extension, even abandoning the orthodox community and its way of life. By mid-century, more Jewish painters felt free to depict a broad range of subjects, some of which were considered daring by Jewish standards, such as female nudes, and Christian themes and provocative events from Jewish history. Others produced work on traditional Jewish subjects while also exploring political themes, such as Oppenheim's depiction of Otto von Bismarck's fictional visit to the Vatican. By the end of the century, having achieved recognition within European culture, some Jewish artists returned to their roots, as it were, and devoted themselves to nostalgic portrayals of Jewish types of the shtetl – a visual record of what they feared might be a vanishing way of life. 

Making an Entrance is on view from September 10 2013 through July 15, 2014 and is curated by Shlomit Steinberg, Hans Dichand Curator of European Art.

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Israel Museum Appoints New Curator of Photography

Jerusalem, July 23, 2013 - The Israel Museum today announced the appointment of Dr. Noam Gal as its new Horace and Grace Goldsmith Curator of Photography. Gal begins his work at the Museum on September 1, 2013, and succeeds Nissan Perez, who retired on June 30, 2013, after serving as the Museum’s founding Curator of Photography for nearly thirty-eight years.

As a curator and a scholar, Gal has focused his academic research on the interpretation of modern visual culture, in particular photography, within the broader framework of critical cultural theory. He currently teaches visual culture and theory of photography at Ben Gurion University and at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, lectures and teaches literary theory and visual culture at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and leads the Photolexic Research Group at Tel Aviv University, which concentrates on questions of spectatorship in the field of photography. He has also worked to engage younger audiences in photography and, together with the Shpilman Institute of Photography in Tel Aviv, is developing new teaching platforms that incorporate photography in the language-skills curricula of Israeli secondary schools.

Gal received a doctorate with distinction from Yale University in 2012, from the Department of Comparative Literature, with a thesis exploring representations of human-animal relations in the literature and photography of the Second World War. While at Yale, he curated a series of exhibitions and colloquia, “Images of Displacement,” on war photography at the Joseph Slifka Center, and he organized the international academic conference and artist workshop “Capture 2012: Photography, Nature, Human Rights.” He earned his master’s degree in the Cultural Studies Program at The Hebrew University and his bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. 

“Noam brings with him a cross-disciplinary expertise and an international perspective that is central to our institutional mission,” said James S. Snyder, the Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “His vision as a curator is deepened by a strong grounding in 19th- and 20th-century visual and aesthetic culture and by a passion for art education - and it was this that distinguished him in our international search for our new curator of photography. We are thrilled to welcome him as a part of our senior curatorial team.” 

“The Israel Museum is celebrated worldwide for pioneering new research in the field of photography, for championing the work of both classic and contemporary photographers, and for cultivating a far-reaching photography collection and exhibition program,” said Gal. “I am honored to be given the opportunity to continue this tradition of excellence at the Museum and to broaden an appreciation of the enduring impact of photography on our understanding of ourselves, our neighbors, our histories, and our environments.” 

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

Since opening in 1965, the Israel Museum has maintained a focus on the exploration and exhibition of photography. Its comprehensive collection marks the Museum as a leader among encyclopedic museums in holdings of this medium. Over the years, through selected acquisitions, as well as gifts from key donors such as Arnold Newman, Arturo Schwarz, and Noel and Harriette Levine, the department’s collection has grown to comprise more than 75,000 works from the earliest days of photography to contemporary times. Areas of expertise include pioneering 19th-century practitioners and photography of the Dada and Surrealist movements, as well as in-depth representations of such historically significant artists as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Andre Kertész, and Man Ray. 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 addition, the department awards three photography prizes, the Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer, the Kavlin Photography Prize for life achievement, and the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography. Nissan Perez, the Museum’s first Curator of Photography, retired on June 30, 2013. 

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Barbra Streisand Visits the Israel Museum


Photograph: Eli Posner

Barbra visited the Israel Museum, Jerusalem yesterday (June 17, 2013). She was hosted by the Museum’s Director James Snyder (in the picture) and Deputy Director Zach Granit.

Barbra showed great interest in the Herod the Great exhibition, before touring the Jewish Art and Life and Modern Art Wings. She was impressed by the Museum’s universality, and lingered in the Jewish Art and Life Wing's Synagogue Route.

After warmly thanking her hosts, Barbra was photographed with the Museum’s Director, against the background of Yitzhak Danziger’s Nimrod, at the entry to the Israeli Art Wing.

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Fauve and Expressionist Masterpieces from Merzbacher Collection on View at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Opening July 2013, Exhibition Features Seminal Works by Max Beckmann, Georges Braque, André Derain, Alexej von Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Henri Matisse, and Maurice Vlaminck, among Others


Karl Schmidt Rotluff, Blooming Trees, 1909

Jerusalem, June 2, 2013 – Beginning July 5, 2013, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, will showcase Fauve and Expressionist paintings from one of the world’s most notable private collections of modern art in the exhibition Color Gone Wild: Fauve and Expressionist Masterworks from the Merzbacher Collection. On view through November 2, 2013, the exhibition features works by major Fauve and Expressionist artists from high points in their careers, including paintings by Georges Braque, André Derain, Alexej Jawlensky, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, and Maurice Vlaminck, among others. Fifteen years following the collection’s public debut at the Israel Museum, Color Gone Wild provides a focused examination of forty-two collection highlights, including important works acquired since then, all linked by a vivid use of vibrant color as a vehicle for emotional expression.

“Since its first public presentation at the Israel Museum in 1998, the Merzbacher Collection has been universally embraced for its exceptional quality, comprising paintings that trace the history of color in the 20th century,” said James S. Snyder, the Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “The works on view in Color Gone Wild are linked by their intensity of color and their emotional expressiveness - reflecting Werner and Gabrielle Merzbacher’s persisting passion for collecting artworks by some of the most pioneering artists of the 20th century. We are deeply grateful to the Merzbachers for making the presentation of this extraordinary display possible.”

Color Gone Wild reflects the Merzbachers’ aesthetic passions. Their interest in collecting was spurred initially by Mrs. Merzbacher’s grandparents, staunch supporters of the avant-garde who amassed a small but stunning collection of modern art. The modern masterpieces on view in this presentation are unified by their brilliantly contrasting hues and energized brushwork. Though differing in subject matter, the paintings all demonstrate a freedom from the social and artistic conventions of their time and a vision of art as socially and spiritually transforming. The exhibition opens with Fauve painting, leading then to the two groups of Expressionists, The Bridge (Die Brücke) and the Blue Rider (Der Blaue Reiter), emphasizing the contemporaneous preoccupation of these painters with expressive color, bold brushstrokes, and innovative composition.

 Included in the exhibition are two keystones of the Merzbacher collection: Blooming Trees (1909) by Karl Schmidt Rottluf and Interior at Collioure (1905) by Henri Matisse. The acquisition of Blooming Trees marked a significant break in the Merzbachers’ earlier collecting practice, which initially favored works by Social Realists and colorful Impressionists. Shortly thereafter, the arrival on loan from Mrs. Merzbacher’s parents of Matisse’s Interior at Collioure further established the foundation for the Merzbachers’ new collecting focus and fueled their search for seminal Fauve and Expressionist works, as well as paintings from related art movements. 

Approximately one quarter of the works in Color Gone Wild were purchased following the collection’s public debut in 1998 and have never been seen in Israel. Among the newly acquired works in the exhibition is Wassily Kandinsky’s Two Hoursemen and a Lying Person (1909-1910), an early work that demonstrates the artist’s inclination towards abstraction with its bold simplification of figures and heightened use of color. Also on view are Girl with Cat (1910) and Two Nudes on a Blue Sofa (1910-20) by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, which in their crude, non-naturalistic depictions of contemporary bohemian life reflect the artist’s attempts to break from the traditional academic style of the age. Another work that marks a shift in artistic practice is Maurice de Vlaminck’s Potato Pickers (ca. 1905-07), an example of the artist’s trend towards “deconstructing” the physical landscape into violent streaks of color that convey a sense of motion. The exhibition will also showcase newly acquired paintings by Erich Heckel, Emil Nolde, and Max Beckmann.

“Gabrielle and I are deeply grateful for the opportunity to share our collection with the Israel Museum’s public and to spread the joy that emanates from these works,” said Werner Merzbacher. “As long-time friends of the Israel Museum, we consider this exhibition a kind of homecoming, fifteen years following our collection’s public debut in Jerusalem, and a gesture of our ongoing support for a museum that is dear to us.”

Color Gone Wild will be on view within the Museum’s collection galleries, as a preamble to its permanent display of the art of the 20th century. The exhibition is an extension of a longstanding relationship between the Israel Museum and the Merzbachers, dating back to Mr. Merzbacher’s extended term as the Founding President of the Swiss Friends of the Israel Museum. In 1986, the Merzbacher’s gifted the Dr. Julius and Hilde Merzbacher Gallery for Israeli Art.

Color Gone Wild is curated by Dr. Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, David Rockefeller Curator, The Stella Fischbach Department of Modern Art at the Israel Museum. The exhibition and catalogue are made possible by the donors to the Museum’s 2013 Exhibition Fund: Claudia Davidoff, Cambridge, MA, in memory of Ruth and Leon Davidoff, Hanno D. Mott, New York, and The Nash Family Foundation, New York. Additional support is provided by The Ministry of Culture and Sport, Israel.

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New Exhibition in the Youth Wing Deceives the Senses


Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Youngman

Jerusalem, May 30, 2013 – This year's annual exhibition in the Museum's Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education focuses on sensory deception and on the gap between visual perception and reality. On view from June 2, ArTricks invites viewers to reconsider the ways in which we view the world through a display of works from the Museum's encyclopedic collections, focusing on modern and contemporary art. On view are thirty works from the Museum’s rich holdings of the oeuvre of master of illusion M.C. Escher, alongside fifty additional works by artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Ceal Floyer, Ori Gersht, Talia Keinan, Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Bridgett Riley, Gigi Scaria, Buky Schwartz, Miri Segal, Gil Shachar, Victor Vasarely and Gal Weinstein.

Illusion occurs when the brain "corrects" the image transmitted by the eye on the basis of its past experiences and memories, thus creating the illusion that the image we perceive actually exists in reality. Throughout the history of art, artists have utilized a variety of techniques in experimenting with illusion. In trompe l'oeil, artists replicate every detail of reality to create the illusion of three-dimensionality on a two-dimensional surface or the illusion of a living entity in sculptural form. Another illusory art form, Op (Optical) Art consists of a play of forms and colors in order to create illusory movement, using geometric shapes, lines, and colors that recur in different arrangements and patterns. Many contemporary artists use illusion to raise philosophical questions about truth and falsehood and the distinction between reality and delusion. The works of these artists abound in illusory effects, manipulations, and visual devices of different kinds, aimed at expressing their thoughts and their perception of the world and reality.

ArTricks seeks to rouse in its viewers the sense of wonder, surprise and magic that is evoked when one thing turns out to be another. The works on display raise a variety of questions: has someone forgotten to wipe the dust off the picture or did the artist paint it there? How is it possible to simultaneously ascend and descend the same step? Could it be that the books on the shelf are nothing but a cluster of transparent nylon strings? Why does the chair look black when it is actually white? How can a view of a flat surface offer infinite depth? The works in the exhibition, many of them interactive, captivate the eye and challenge the mind, tempting and inviting us to reexamine that which is seemingly known.

ArTricks is on view June 2, 2013 – February 15, 2014, and is curated by Daniella Shalev of the Ruth Youth Wing for Art Education. Summer activities and events in conjunction with the exhibition invite the public to further engage in the theme of illusion and tricks in art.

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Israel Museum Restitutes Max Liebermann's Garden in Wannsee to Heirs of Original Owner

Museum Reacquires Impressionist Masterpiece for its Collection; Painting was Featured in Landmark 2008 Exhibition

Orphaned Art: Looted Art from the Holocaust in the Israel Museum


Max Lieberman, Garden in Wamsee, 1923, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem


Jerusalem, May 28, 2013
– The Israel Museum announced today the restitution of the Impressionist masterpiece Garden in Wannsee, 1923, by German-Jewish artist Max Liebermann (1847-1935), to the designated heir of the original owner, Max Cassirer. The painting, the finest example of the artist’s Impressionist work in the Israel Museum's collection, was confiscated by the Nazis in 1941, together with Cassirer's other assets. After the war the painting was given to the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO), and, in 1950, JRSO gave the painting in custody to the Bezalel National Museum, the precursor to the Israel Museum. In 2012, the work was identified by the designated heir with the help of historian Marina Blumberg and the law office of von Trott zu Solz Lammek in Berlin, following the discovery of a photograph showing the painting as it was displayed in Cassirer's home in Berlin prior to its looting. The Israel Museum promptly restituted the work and worked together with the designated heir to re-acquire the painting for its collection.

“The rightful restitution of works of art that were stolen or unwillingly sold during the Second World War is a challenge that many continue to face, and it is gratifying when ongoing research relating to JRSO works in our collection results in their return,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “We do our best to be exemplary in the handling of World War II restitution claims and are especially pleased to be able to achieve a resolution in the case of Max Liebermann's masterwork Garden of Wannsee, with title restituted to its rightful heirs, while we are able to continue to keep the work itself for the Museum’s collection, together with our other examples of Liebermann’s work, for scholarship and research and for the enjoyment of our visitors.”

Max Cassirer was a wealthy businessman from Berlin and scion of a renowned family of art dealers. Garden in Wannsee, which depicted the garden of the artist’s summer residence, was displayed in the music room in his home. As a result of Nazi persecution, Cassirer was forced to sell the business “Dr. Cassirer & Co.” to a German Company in 1935. In 1939, he emigrated to Switzerland and later to England. Cassirer's assets were confiscated by the Nazis in 1941. Some of his paintings were sold in an auction, whereas others, including Garden in Wannsee, were seized by the Command Force of Reich Leader Rosenberg, a Nazi looting agency. After the war, the painting was found and delivered to the Central Collecting Point in Munich, where it was handed over to the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO). 

Garden in Wannsee has been exhibited extensively at the Israel Museum and abroad since becoming part of the JRSO collection and was published online by the Museum as part of a catalogue of the approximately 1,200 JRSO works of art and Judaica in the custody of the Israel Museum. In 2008, the painting was featured in Orphaned Art, the Museum's landmark exhibition exploring the fate of works of art looted during World War II that were subsequently brought to Israel. Garden in Wannsee is Liebermann's most important landscape painting in the Museum's collection, which also includes portraits and self-portraits by the artist, as well as smaller nature and genre scenes.

The restitution of Garden of Wannsee continues the Museum’s history of significant restitutions, including most recently the return of another Max Liebermann painting, The Return of Tobias (ca. 1934), to the artist's own heirs in 2011, and the Paul Klee drawing Veil Dance (1920) to the estate of German art collector Harry Fuld Jr., in 2010. In 2008, three ancient Roman gold-glass medallions were restituted to the heirs to the Dzialynska Collection at Goluchow Castle in Poland. The Museum reacquired one medallion for its collection, and another was purchased and placed with the Museum on extended loan. Among other examples in recent years, in 2005, Edgar Degas’ charcoal drawing Four Nude Female Dancers Resting, ca. 1898, was restituted to the heirs of Dutch art dealer Jacques Goudstikker. And, in 2000, the Museum returned Camille Pissarro’s Boulevard Montmartre, 1897, to the heir of Holocaust victim Max Silberberg, who placed the painting on long-term loan to the Museum.

Jewish Restitution Successor Organization

Beginning in 1948, works of art and Judaica that were identified as having been looted from Jews or Jewish communities but were heirless and unclaimed were given to the Jewish Restitution Successor Organization (JRSO), which undertook a systematic program to distribute this cultural legacy among museums, synagogues, and other Jewish organizations in Israel and worldwide. Some of these objects were deposited for safekeeping at the Bezalel National Museum, precursor to the Israel Museum, which, following its establishment in 1965, became the custodian of some 250 paintings, 250 works on paper, and 700 objects of Judaica received through JRSO. Beginning as early as 1950, individuals have come forward to claim JRSO works. An online catalogue of all of the JRSO works in custody of the Israel Museum can be found in a special section of the Museum’s website (www.imj.org.il), titled World War II Provenance Research Online.

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Israel Museum Presents Major Exhibition Exploring Influence of Immigration on 20th-Century Photography

Displaced Visions: Emigré Photographers of the 20th Century Features Works by Andre Kertesz, Robert Frank, Moholy Nagy, Man Ray, and Weegee, Among Others

Jerusalem, May 21, 2013 – On May 28, 2013, the Israel Museum inaugurates Displaced Visions: Émigré Photographers of the 20th Century, a major exhibition that reconsiders the work of nearly 100 key figures in photography from the unique perspective of how their standing as immigrants affected their creative vision. Featuring more than 220 works drawn primarily from the Israel Museum’s extensive collection of modern and contemporary photography, Displaced Visions focuses in particular on the earliest photographs taken by the artists in their new countries, exploring how this work expanded photographic practices of the time and influenced the history of the medium. On view through October 5, 2013, the exhibition showcases works by Bill Brandt, Robert Frank, Andre Kertesz, Man Ray, Lisette Model, Tina Modotti, Moholy Nagy, and Weegee, along with New York School photographers and many others.

Displaced Visions builds on the Israel Museum’s dedication to expanding new scholarship in the field of photography by reconsidering the impact of place on 20th-century émigré photographers. The exhibition is the first to examine in-depth the effect of this displacement on the creative visions of these photographers - how it opened the doors to new artistic horizons and gave new meaning to avant-garde practice in the 20th century, and how it ultimately influenced the history of photography itself,” said James S. Snyder, the Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.

A large percentage of photographers from the early modern period were immigrants, either by choice or necessity. Unlike the traveling photographers of the 19th century who chose to visit new countries and other cultures, the majority of these expatriates were propelled into unfamiliar environments for the long-term, often completely unprepared. Many embraced photography as a way to document their changing psychological, cultural, linguistic, and environmental realties. The interaction of person and place often encouraged both self-expression and a process of new territorial exploration.

Displaced Visions examines what these artists photographed and how they observed, interpreted, and documented the mundane realities of their new environments through the filters of their own cultural, linguistic, and religious backgrounds. The exhibition includes well-known images such as the parlourmaids of Bill Brandt, Parisian night photographs of George Brassaï and images of New York by Andre Kertesz, and also presents many lesser-known photographs that illustrate the artists’ first attempts to record their new realities. Among others, the exhibition highlights previously unknown images by prominent figures in 20th century photography, including collages by Dora Maar, Paris views by Germaine Krull and Man Ray, early surrealist works by Philippe Halsmann, and newly discovered work by Roman Vishniac.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum plans an international symposium on June 25–26, 2013, with historians, philosophers, anthropologists, and artists to discuss together the theme of “In a Strange Land: The Photographic and Artistic Interpretation of Unfamiliar Environments.” The event will be chaired by anthropologist Marc Augé, France, and among the speakers will be: Bois Groys, New York University; Svetlana Boym, Harvard University; Bernard-Henri Lévy, France; Malcolm Le Grice, Central Saint Martins University, UK; Shelley Rice, New York University; and others.

Displaced Visions is curated by Nissan N. Perez, Horace and Grace Goldsmith Senior Curator in the Museum’s Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography, and accompanied by a 240-page illustrated catalogue, including an index of all recorded immigrant photographers of the 20th century.

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

Since opening in 1965, the Israel Museum has maintained a focus on the exploration and exhibition of photography. Its comprehensive collection marks the Museum as a leader among encyclopedic museums in holdings of this medium. Over the years, through selected acquisitions, as well as gifts from key donors such as Arnold Newman, Arturo Schwarz, and Noel and Harriette Levine, the department’s collection has grown to comprise more than 75,000 works from the earliest days of photography to contemporary times. Areas of expertise include pioneering 19th-century practitioners and photography of the Dada and Surrealist movements, as well as in-depth representations of such historically significant artists as Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Andre Kertész, and Man Ray. 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 addition, the department awards three photography prizes, the Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer, the Kavlin Photography Prize for life achievement, and the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography.

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Solo Exhibition of Celebrated Artist Yehudit Sasportas at the Israel Museum

Jerusalem, May 21, 2013 – The Israel Museum announces a new exhibition showcasing the creative production of Yehudit Sasportas, one of the most prominent Israeli artists working today, in a unique and all-encompassing installation created especially for the Museum. Featuring primarily new work, Yehudit Sasportas: Seven Winters displays films alongside signature sculptures and drawings that are monumental in scale, charting the evolution of the artist's imagery of primordial landscapes and modernistic architecture. Sasportas, who lives and works in Berlin and Tel Aviv, is perhaps best known as the featured artist in the Israeli pavilion at the 2007 Venice Biennale. Regularly exhibited in galleries in Europe, the United States and Israel, this is her first solo museum exhibition in over a decade and her first solo exhibition at the Israel Museum. Yehudit Sasportas: Seven Winters is on view from May 28 through October 19, 2013.

The artist's vision of an exhibition that is not separated into individual works but is rather a whole work in itself, organized in a cumulative manner, creates an experience that is sensory and personal. Visitors entering the installation are transported to an alternative universe of black-and-white forest and marsh landscapes and a visual vacillation between the conscious and the subconscious. Walking though the installation is like drifting along a stream of consciousness, an associative journey encompassing objects and images, times and places. Some of the times are personal: a childhood crib that Sasportas created more than twenty years ago, followed by highlights of her work from different periods in her artistic biography, until we reach the timelessness of her more recent evocations of a primordial world. The installation also embraces a geographic expanse, from her father’s carpentry workshop in Ashdod to her own studio in Berlin; from a marshy landscape in northwest Germany to an inner landscape of consciousness, memory, and oblivion. The journey through the rooms of this installation culminates in the new large-scale film Vortex of Separation (2013), which features floating objects – a piano, oil drums, natural debris –that are part of Sasportas’ visual narrative.

Yehudit Sasportas: Seven Winters is curated by Mira Lapidot, Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of the Fine Arts. An English-Hebrew catalogue accompanies the exhibition.
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Renowned Gabriel Revelation Stone in First-Time Exhibition in Israel​

Landmark display sheds light on the spiritual side of Herod's regime, as well as the role of the Angel Gabriel in the three monotheistic faiths


​The Gabriel Revelation, Eastern Dead Sea region, 1st century BCE – 1st century CE, Ink on limestone, Collection of Dr. David and Jemima Jeselsohn, Zurich, Photo @ Bruce Zuckerman
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Jerusalem, April 30, 2013 – Considered the most important archaeological artifact to come to light in the region since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gabriel Revelation Stone will be on public view for the first time in Israel as the centerpiece of a new focused exhibition at the Israel Museum, opening May 1, 2013. The inscribed first-century BCE tablet, discovered in 2007 on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea, sheds light on the spiritual life of the Second Temple Period. The exhibition I Am Gabriel will contextualize and further illuminate the stone’s inscriptions with a number of ancient, rare manuscripts – including a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the 13th-century Damascus Codex – tracing the development of the figure of the Angel Gabriel across the early years of rabbinic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. On view through February 11, 2014, I Am Gabriel complements the ongoing large-scale exhibition Herod the Great, which explores other aspects of the period.

 

The Gabriel Revelation inscription reflects the messianic atmosphere, anxiety over the fate of Jerusalem, and the new role of angels as intermediaries that characterized the spiritual orientation of Jews in the Second Temple Period. Inscribed in ink on stone, a rare find in itself, the Hebrew text is written in the first person, the narrator identifying himself as the angel Gabriel. The inscription comprises a series of dialogues; in the main dialogue the speaker identifies himself three times in the first-person: "I am Gabriel." Gabriel converses with a human figure – a visionary or prophet – to whom he, Gabriel, is apparently communicating a vision. Scholars are deeply divided regarding the reading of the inscription's 87 lines, since large sections have been effaced. However, all agree that the main topic of the inscription is an attack on Jerusalem and the hope that God will see to the city's deliverance for the sake of his servant David, perhaps referring to the Messiah of Davidic descent. The style of the inscription echoes the late prophetic and apocalyptic literary genres that are unique to the Second Temple period, similar to that of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the later books of the Prophets, such as Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah.

 

Complementing this exceptional inscription are works showing the evolution of the figure of the angel Gabriel in the three monotheistic religions, including the War Scroll, one of the first Dead Sea Scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947; the Book of Daniel from the 13th-century Damascus Codex of the Hebrew Bible, rarely on display to the public; the Gospel of Luke from a rare 10th-century Latin manuscript of the Four Gospels from France, and a 15th-16th-century Quran from Iran. Also on view are prayer books from the three traditions with illustrations of the angel Gabriel. 

 

I am Gabriel is curated by Michal Dayagi-Mendels, Tamar and Teddy Kollek Chief Curator of Archaeology, and Adolfo D. Roitman, Lizbeth and George Krupp Curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Rare 15th-Century Illuminated Manuscript of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah

Jointly Acquired by The Israel Museum, Jerusalem and The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Mishneh Torah by Maimonides, Northern Italy, ca. 1457-65

Jerusalem and New York (April 29, 2013) – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the joint acquisition of one of the finest illuminated Hebrew manuscripts ever created, a rare handwritten copy of the Mishneh Torah by Maimonides, one of the most important rabbinical figures of the Middle Ages. The manuscript was previously in the collection of Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York, and will be shared by the two museums on a rotating basis. 

 

The Mishneh Torah is being acquired by the Israel Museum with support from: an anonymous donor; René and Susanne Braginsky, Zurich; Renee and Lester Crown, Chicago; Lynn Schusterman, Tulsa; and Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York. Funding for the acquisition at the Metropolitan Museum will be announced at a later date.

 

Created in Northern Italy in ca. 1457, this beautifully illustrated Hebrew text includes the eight final books of the Mishneh Torah, the first systematic codification of Jewish law. The manuscript is richly illuminated, with six large painted panels decorated in precious pigments and gold leaf, as well as 41 smaller illustrations with gold lettering adorning the opening words of each chapter. These detailed illustrations, executed in the style of Northern Italian Renaissance miniature painting, along with the manuscript’s elegant script, make it one of the finest extant illuminated copies of the Mishneh Torah ever to be created. The manuscript underwent a complete restoration in the Paper Conservation Laboratory at the Israel Museum, where it has been on long-term loan since 2007 and on view to the public since 2010.

 

“The Mishneh Torah is a rare treasure that unites Jewish literary heritage with some of the finest illuminations from the Italian Renaissance,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “On loan for display in our galleries in recent years, the manuscript now becomes a seminal addition to our extensive holdings in illuminated Hebrew manuscripts. We are very pleased to be acquiring this work jointly with The Metropolitan Museum of Art for the shared enjoyment of our publics in Jerusalem and in New York and are grateful to the international group of supporters that enabled this important acquisition.”

 

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, stated, “We are pleased and proud to collaborate with the Israel Museum on acquiring such a rare and important manuscript for both of our institutions. The Mishneh Torah is a justly celebrated work that attests to the refined aesthetic sensibility of members of Italy’s Jewish community as well as to the opulence of North Italian book decoration in the 15th century. In recent years, through stellar loans provided by a number of institutions, the Metropolitan Museum has exhibited several major illustrated Hebrew manuscripts in rotation. The Mishneh Torah, a document of great historical and literary importance, and a masterpiece of illumination, will be a major addition to the Museum’s permanent and encyclopedic collection, and will provide audiences in New York and Jerusalem with a vastly rewarding viewing experience for generations to come.”

 

Michael Steinhardt added, “We could not be happier that this rare and remarkable manuscript will be in the care of the Israel Museum and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in perpetuity. One of the world’s most significant Hebrew manuscripts, the Mishneh Torah will add important new dimensions to both collections - and its shared homes in New York and Jerusalem will ensure the broadest public engagement with the work.  Judy and I are also delighted for our role within the group of donors who are making this key acquisition possible.”

 

The manuscript was originally conceived in two volumes. The first volume, which contains books I-V, was purchased between 1838 and 1854 by the renowned Italian collector Giovanni Francesco De’ Rossi, whose manuscript holdings were later acquired by the Vatican Library. The second volume, which includes books VII-XIV and is often referred to today as the "Frankfurt Mishneh Torah,” reached Germany as part of the collection of Avraham Merzbacher of Munich until the end of the 19th century and was later presented to the Frankfurt Municipal Library. In 1950, a Frankfurt Jewish family acquired the manuscript, along with seven others, in exchange for property that the city wished to acquire for municipal development. It remained in the family until its 2007 purchase by Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York

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Herod Exhibition Extended until January 2014


Benni Maor, In the Herod the Great exhibition

Herod the Great exhibition trailer >>>

Jerusalem, April 9, 2013 – In response to unprecedented public interest, the Israel Museum announced today that Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey will remain on view for an additional three months through January 4, 2014. The extension allows the Museum to better accommodate the significant numbers of visitors and school groups from throughout Israel, as well as international tourists who are coming to experience the exhibition. In the eight weeks since the February 13 opening, Herod the Great received over 75,000 visitors, and during the recent Passover and Easter holidays, over 3,000 visitors per day attended the exhibition. Timed tickets are issued during peak hours in order to minimize waiting time, and visitors are encouraged to come on Sundays and other weekday mornings. Tickets may also be purchased online in advance at ticketing.imj.org.il.

About the exhibition

The life and legacy of Herod the Great, ruler of Judea from 37-4 BCE and considered among the most important imperial figures in history, is the focus of this groundbreaking archaeology exhibition. Centered on the findings from Herod’s tomb at Herodium – uncovered  in 2007 after a forty-year search – Herod the Great presents over 250 unique archaeological artifacts, exploring for the first time the life of this controversial king, whose historical and physical imprint is virtually unchallenged in this region. Many artifacts are on display for the first time and are illustrated by reconstructions of Herodian sites using original material. The exhibition also features a monumental, full-size reconstruction of the burial chamber of the king’s mausoleum, including the intricately carved sarcophagus believed to have held his body, together with fragments from the Second Temple of Jerusalem and reconstructed palace chambers decorated with meticulously restored wall paintings and stucco and mosaic work. Herod the Great is curated by David Mevorah, Curator of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Periods, and Dr. Silvia Rozenberg, Rodney E. Soher Senior Curator of Classical Archaeology.

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New Exhibition Explores Recurring Motif of  Joan Miró's Spanish Dancer

 
Joan Miro, The Hunter (Catalan Landscape), Montroig, July 1923-Winter 1924

Jerusalem, February 20, 2013 – The Israel Museum presents the second exhibition in its "Focus" series, which takes as its starting point two works from the Museum’s own holdings: Joan Miró's Painting (Spanish Dancer), 1927, and his drawing Untitled (Spanish Dancer), 1924. Miró’s fascination with Spanish dancers unfolds through a series of paintings, drawings, and sketches produced over a period of sixty years. The fifteen works on display, from the Museum’s collection and on loan from international institutions and private collections, draw on symbols and imagery recurrent in Miró’s oeuvre and are rendered through a profusion of artistic styles. Joan Miró's Spanish Dancer explores this theme within the artist's oeuvre, analyzing its iconographic sources, connection with the artist's worldview, and its place within the development of Miró's artistic language. The exhibition is on view from February 26 through June 29, 2013.

The two works from the Museum's collection, Painting (Spanish Dancer), 1927, and Untitled (Spanish Dancer), 1924, stand at the core of this analysis of an important ensemble of works that both draw on imagery recurrent in the oeuvre of Joan Miró and establish a vocabulary of visual signs connected with the image of the Spanish dancer. Flamenco's sensuous display of the upper torso, articulate hand gestures and percussive footwork inspired Miró to produce more than thirty sketches, drawings, paintings, and collages of Spanish dancers over a period of sixty years, between 1921 and 1981. These witty and playful works are rendered in a variety of styles - from realism and cubism, to surrealism and abstract collage - and exhibit Miró’s constant experimentation with form, medium, and technique. Miró’s dancers draw upon childhood memories, Catalan art and folkloric objects that he collected. They are also linked with the popularity of Spanish themes within Parisian avant-garde painting, sculpture, and music during the second half of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century. As an artist who divided his time between Paris, Barcelona, and his family farm in Montroig (Tarragona), Miró’s choice to pursue the Spanish dancer (titled in French by the artist in most cases as danseuse espagnole) reflects a desire to use an icon of "Spanishness" in France to express his origins in an evolving personal, yet at the same time universal, avant-garde language.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, David Rockefeller Curator, The Stella Fischbach Department of Modern A 

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Israel Museum Presents First Exhibition on King Herod, Featuring Newly Discovered Tomb

 

Monumental burial chamber, discovered after 40-year search, reconstructed and on display alongside new archaeological findings from first century BCE for the first time


Handle of a footed marble basin decorated with Seilenoi heads, the 1st century BCE.
On loan from SAOJS

 

Jerusalem, February 12, 2013 – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, premieres the world’s first exhibition on the life and legacy of Herod the Great, one of the most influential – and controversial – figures in ancient Roman and Jewish history. On view from February 13, 2013, through October 5, 2013, the landmark exhibition Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey will present approximately 250 archaeological finds from the king’s recently discovered tomb at Herodium, as well as from Jericho and other related sites, to shed new light on the political, architectural, and aesthetic impact of Herod’s reign from 37 to 4 BCE. Among the objects on view - all of which have undergone extensive restoration at the Israel Museum for exhibition display purposes - will be three sarcophagi from Herod’s tomb and restored frescoes from Herodium, his private bath from the palace at Cypros; never-before-seen carved stone elements from the Temple Mount; and an imperial marble basin thought to be a gift from Augustus.

Lionized as the “the greatest builder of human history,” King Herod was also demonized for his uncertain ethnic and religious pedigree, controversial political alliances, the execution of his wife and three of his children, and erroneous association with the New Testament narrative of the “Massacre of the Innocents” in Bethlehem. Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey seeks to provide a better understanding of this ancient figure through the monumental architecture he created and the art and objects with which he surrounded himself. The exhibition will examine Herod’s remarkable building projects, complex diplomatic relations with the Roman emperors and nobility, and dramatic funeral procession from Jericho to the mausoleum he constructed for himself in Herodium. A striking reconstruction of the burial chamber of the mausoleum is a centerpiece of the exhibition.

In 2007, after a 40-year search, renowned archaeologist Professor Ehud Netzer of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem discovered the ruler’s tomb at Herodium on the edge of the Judean Desert. The site included a fortress palace and a leisure complex with gardens, large pools, decorated bathhouses, and a theatre with a royal box. In his final years, Herod reconfigured the architecture of the complex to prepare the setting for his burial procession and site, and constructed a magnificent mausoleum facing Jerusalem. The Museum’s exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Professor Netzer, who died in 2010 at the site of his seminal discovery.

“Professor Ehud Netzer capped his decades-long excavation of Herodium with his discovery of King Herod’s tomb in 2007, and over the past five years, archaeologists excavating the site have made remarkable discoveries that have deepened our appreciation of Professor Netzer’s remarkable achievement and enriched our understanding of Herod, his reign, and his role in the history of the region,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “We are proud of the extensive restoration work that our conservation staff has been able to complete and thrilled to present these important finds to the public for the first time in an exhibition that will illuminate a pivotal period in the history of the Land of Israel.”

Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey will be organized around the route of Herod's carefully planned funeral procession, from the throne room at his winter palace in Jericho, through Jerusalem, to his monumental tomb at Herodium. Central themes of the exhibition include Herod’s impact on the architectural landscape of the Land of Israel; his complex relationships within the Roman Empire; and his death and burial:

• Herod the Great Builder
King Herod is known for his large-scale building projects, which required enormous resources and transformed the landscape of the Land of Israel. In addition to his most renowned achievement - the renovation and re-construction of the Temple in Jerusalem - Herod also built elaborate palaces, fortresses, public buildings, pagan temples, and cities which reflect the integration of local building traditions and materials with Roman technology and style. Herod’s extensive building activities will be illustrated in the exhibition through architectural elements and archaeological fragments from several Herodian sites, including Jerusalem, Jericho, Cypros, and Herodium.

• International Relations
Herod’s rise to power was tightly bound with the rise of the Roman Empire, whose culture he greatly admired. Initially a friend and supporter of Marcus Antonius, Herod famously switched allegiances, following the former's defeat, and courted the favor of the first Roman emperor Augustus. Herod expressed his devotion by dedicating temples and cities in honor of Augustus and also paid tribute to other notable Roman personages, like Agrippa, in the form of monetary, military, and political support. Herod’s special affiliation with Rome will be presented through portraits of Augustus, Livia and Marcus Agrippa, and through Augustan luxury objects, brought to the region from Rome, as well as Herodian finds imported or crafted by Roman artists.

• The Final Journey from Jericho to Herodium
The funeral of King Herod in 4 BCE began at his lavish winter palace in Jericho and ended at his fortress and palace at Herodium, where he was buried in a mausoleum especially constructed for him facing Jerusalem. The King’s final journey will be presented through reconstructions of special architectural elements from Jericho and Herodium, including the decorated throne room of the Jericho palace where Herod’s body lay in state and the burial chamber from his mausoleum.

Herod the Great: The King's Final Journey is organized by the Israel Museum and curated by David Mevorah, Curator of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Periods, and Dr. Silvia Rozenberg, Rodney E. Soher Senior Curator of Classical Archeology. The exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive 250-page catalogue, published by the Israel Museum, featuring the first publication of the tomb complex and other discoveries from Herodium. The catalogue will also include scholarly articles on Herod’s life and the legacy of Herodian architecture, written by Professor Netzer before his death in 2010, and by other leading experts in the field.

Herod the Great exhibition trailer >>>
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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.

Symposium
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.

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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.


Israel Museum Reopening Event, July 2010
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