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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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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.


Fauve and Expressionist Masterpieces from Merzbacher Collectio 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.


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.


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 (, titled World War II Provenance Research Online.


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.


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.

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

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.


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


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

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.


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 


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 >>>

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.

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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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