The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
About the Israel Museum   Press Room 2015  
Press Room 2015
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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.

The Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2015, with a year-long program devoted to an exploration of Israel’s aesthetic culture in the 50 years before and after its founding

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Exhibition Explores German Heritage of Israel’s
Modernist Visual Vocabulary

New Types: Three Pioneers of Hebrew Graphic Design Features the Typographic Achievements of Franzisca Baruch,
Henri Friedlaender, and Moshe Spitzer

 

Jerusalem  (September 1, 2015) – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, will explore the impact of Germany’s visual cultural heritage on modernist typography and the graphic arts in Israel with New Types: Three Pioneers of Hebrew Graphic Design. On view from October 20, 2015, through March 19, 2016, the exhibition brings together for the first time the work of Franzisca Baruch, Henri Friedlaender, and Dr. Moshe Spitzer, whose typographic innovations had a seminal impact on the development of Israel’s modern visual language. The exhibition extends the Museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which are ongoing throughout 2015, and is presented in honor of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany.

“As we continue our celebrations of the Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary year, this fall season focuses on the pioneering avant-garde European movements that would profoundly influence artistic practice and visual vocabulary in modern Israel,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum.  “These three individuals not only forged a new typographic identity for a new Israel in the 20th century. They also played a central role in developing Israel’s modernist visual landscape, from the establishment of printing houses, to the creation of new Hebrew typefaces, to designing logos and symbols that would take on emblematic standing for the State of Israel through today.”  Snyder continued: “In thinking about the European design discipline that would have the greatest impact on the look of a new Israel in the 20th century – and on the spirit of our own Museum at the time of its founding – it was clear to us that typography’s role was seminal, given the need atthe time to create a new visual language to bring ancient Hebrew into modern times.”           

New Types presents a focused look at the history of Israeli typography through the practice of three pioneering Israeli designers, each of whom immigrated to  Palestine after training in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s: Franzisca Baruch, a  virtuoso graphic designer whose notable achievements include the Israeli passport and the signature typeface for the Schocken publishing dynasty’s Ha’aretz newspaper; Henri Friedlaender, a master typographer and educator who designed the Hadassah Hebrew typeface and mentored generations of professionals in Jerusalem; and Dr. Moshe Spitzer, designer, publisher, and managing editor of the Tarshish Publishing House, which set the standard for book design in Israel.

New Types: Three Pioneers of Hebrew Graphic Design, presents the work of each designer alongside their sources of inspiration and together with archival materials that provide a cultural and historical context for their stylistic development. Most of the works in the exhibition are being displayed publicly for the first time, with many drawn from the Baruch and Friedlaender archives, now held by the Israel Museum, and the Spitzer archive. The exhibition also includes loans from the Schocken Institute, the National Library of Israel, the Meermanno Museum in The Hague, the Klingspor Museum in Germany, and the British Monotype Company.

Both German and Hebrew cultural influences of the 1920s and 1930s affected the practice of each of the three featured designers. For example, as part of the German vogue at the time of reviving ancient scripts, all three studied the shapes and forms of medieval Hebrew script which then served as the basis for the evolution of their own typographic signatures. Following the rise of Nazism, Baruch and Spitzer immigrated to British Mandate Palestine; Friedlaender left for Holland and arrived in Jerusalem in 1950.  Once in Israel, all contributed their talents and professional expertise, together with their European cultural sensibilities, to the formation of a visual language reflecting the ideological foundations and cultural aspirations of a new Israeli state.

·        Franzisca Baruch’s career embraced many facets of the graphic design field, from commercial to cultural projects to government commissions. After completing her education, she worked as an independent graphic artist, and during the 1920s, worked with the design consultants for the Weimar Republic, where she designed one of the versions of the German eagle emblem. In 1933, Baruch immigrated to British Mandate Palestine, where she designed exhibition billboards and signs. On the eve of Israel’s independence, she helped design the insignias of the young State, including the Israeli passport and the symbol of the City of Jerusalem. As commissions became scarce during the early 1940s, Baruch employed her entrepreneurial spirit to create a branded line of marzipan treats decorated with her own illustrations and packaged in boxes stamped with her own “Baruch Biscuits” logo. Baruch’s ties with Salman Schocken, whom she met in Berlin in the 1920s, continued in Jerusalem, and in 1936 she designed the logo for his Haaretz newspaper, which still graces its front page. In the 1940s, Baruch designed the Schocken letter, which Salman Schocken hoped would become a “new Hebrew letter.”

·     In the early 1930s, Salman Schocken approached the Haag-Drugulin foundry to create a new Hebrew typeface in Germany. The foundry failed to do so, but its young employee Henri Friedlaender took up the challenge. Friedlander then began a 30-year long journey toward the design of the iconic Hebrew typeface Hadassah, including three years spent hiding from the Nazis in Holland. While in hiding, Friedlander perfected his Hebrew and German calligraphy, practicing with Biblical texts. After the war, he worked as an independent designer in Holland and finally completed his work on the Hadassah typeface in Jerusalem in 1958. Drawing inspiration from the lettering of an ancient Esther Scroll, Hadassah is still considered a unique typeface, making a quantum leap in the history of the Hebrew letter from the pre-industrial to the industrial age. In Jerusalem, Friedlander directed the Apprenticeship Printing School until 1970, where he educated a generation of printing masters, and, in the 1970s, he designed three new typefaces for IBM and updated the Hadassah letter to suit changing print technologies.

·      While residing in Berlin, Moshe Spitzer served as editor of the the Schocken Publishing House, where he became manager in 1938.  He was co-editor with Zalman Schocken and Martin Buber of the "Library" (Bücherei) series, contributing 83 volumes between 1933 and 1938, following the Nazis’ decree that Jewish books could only be published by Jewish publishers.  Based on the format of a similar series published by Insel, these volumes were bound in uniform monochromatic bindings, and their rich content reflected a microcosm of world Jewish culture, from The Guide for the Perplexed to Kafka’s The Castle. Spitzer imported his high aesthetic standards and prolific approach to publishing in Jerusalem, where he singlehandedly established the Tarshish Publishing House, overseeing the translation of great Western literary works, publishing original Hebrew literature, designing books, and commissioning illustrators. Spitzer also founded the Jerusalem Type Foundry, which sought to produce type locally instead of depending on European imports, casting new types on which Spitzer collaborated, among them Hatzevi-Light, Romema, and David.

A fully-illustrated Hebrew catalogue accompanies the exhibition, with entries by contributors from Israel and abroad that draw a broad portrait of the achievement of these three seminal designers against a background of political changes in Germany and the establishment of the State of Israel. The text is illustrated with a range of visual materials, surveying the development of culture and design in Israel. The catalogue also features over 40 entries offering a comprehensive exploration of the designers’ work, and includes essays by Dr. Stephanie Mahrer, Phillipp Messner, Adi Stern, among others. An abbreviated English catalogue will also be available.

Exhibition Organization

New Types: Three Pioneers of Hebrew Graphic Design is curated by Guest Curator Ada Wardi, herself a graphic designer devoted to researching the works and influence of Moshe Spitzer.  The exhibition was realized in collaboration with the Deutches Literaturarchiv (DLA) in Marbach, Germany and with the support of the Goethe-Institute. The DLA and the Rosenzweig Minerva Research Center for German-Jewish Literature and Cultural History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have provided support for the cataloguing of the archival collections on which the exhibition is based.


Exhibition Showcasing Recent Contemporary Art Acquisitions Explores Notions of Individual and Collective Identity


Opening in September 2015, we the people Continues the Israel Museum’s Year-Long 50th Anniversary Celebrations 

 

Jerusalem (August 19, 2015) – The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, continues its 50th Anniversary celebrations with a new exhibition addressing notions of individual and collective social identity within society. Opening on September 20, we the people brings together recent acquisitions in contemporary art with key loans to explore definitions of selfhood and to reflect on how individuals find solidarity with one another through shared beliefs, values, and cultural systems. Through an examination of ideals of freedom and of the power of collective action, the works on view represent a range of perspectives within a local and global context by artists including: Pawel Althamer, Cyprien Gaillard, Melanie Gilligan, Shilpa Gupta, Susan Hefuna, Yoav Horesh, Sala-Manca, Wolfgang Tillmans, Danh Vo, Lawrence Weiner, Artur Žmijewski, and Natalia Zourabova, among others. 

"we the people examines the freedom of expression that art has afforded throughout centuries for the exploration of self and the search for a sense of belonging to a larger whole," said James S. Snyder, the Museum's Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. "When presented together, the works in this exhibition—among them, stunning examples of our Museum’s recent acquisitions in contemporary art —mirror in thought-provoking, sensitive, and, at times, humorous ways the complexities of the world's current geo-political climate. As we enter the second half of our 50th Anniversary exhibition year, we look forward to engaging our audiences in this conversation about contemporary creative exploration, which is also so much about life in our time."

we the people addresses how social order evolves from such diverse factors as politics, religion, technology, and language. From the formation of majorities and minorities to the impact of opposition within a given society, the works on view engage in a dialogue about how Utopian ideals can be stimulated or constrained. Exhibition highlights include:   

 

·       Danh Vo’s We The People (2011)—the inspiration for the exhibition’s title—replicates the Statue of Liberty through 300 distinct parts on a one-to-one scale. Drawing on this universal symbol of freedom and democracy, Vo’s fragmentation and displacement of this icon of democracy investigates the abstract nature of the concept of freedom.

 

·    Wolfgang Tillmans’ Memorial for the Victims of Organized Religions (2006) is a wall installation comprised of 48 black-and-dark-blue photographs presented in a minimalist grid that alludes to religious notions of the “absolute.”

·      Shilpa Gupta's Stars on Flags of the World (2012) brings together hundreds of stainless-steel stars originating from all 194 national flags. The stars piled atop one another in a vitrine represent the entire world and highlight the relationship among individual countries that make up global society.

·    Melanie Gilligan’s The Common Sense (2014) is a video series revolving around a futuristic technology that enables people to experience directly the physical sensations and feelings of another person. The narrative that unfolds focuses on the influence of technology and the economy on human relationships.

Exhibition Organization

we the people is curated by Rita Kersting, the Israel Museum’s Landeau Family Curator of Contemporary Art.



Survey of Avant-Garde Masterworks Celebrates Artistic Freedom in Early 20th-Century Germany

A Centerpiece of the Israel Museum’s 50th Anniversary Season, Twilight over Berlin Examines the Aesthetic Traditions Foundational to Israel’s Modernist Visual Culture

Jerusalem (August 3, 2015) — Anchoring the second half of the Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary year, Twilight over Berlin: Masterworks from the Nationalgalerie, 1905-1945 brings together seminal examples of works by German artists, whose avant-garde creativity was foundational to Israel’s modernist visual vocabulary in a range of creative disciplines. On view October 20, 2015–March 26, 2016, the exhibition features works by masters of the German Expressionist movement, among them Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, and Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, together with such Weimar period innovators as Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, George Grosz, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee.

Twilight over Berlin continues the Israel Museum’s celebratory collaborations with sister institutions worldwide throughout its 50th anniversary year and marks its special partnership with the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, also honoring 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. Concurrently this fall, the Museum presents a companion exhibition highlighting the German modernist heritage that influenced the pioneers of modern Hebrew typography and the graphic arts in Israel. Together, these exhibitions amplify the ways in which aesthetic traditions migrated from Europe to Palestine in the period before World War II and shaped the development of Israel’s 20th-century visual vocabulary.

“On the occasion of our milestone anniversary, it is important that we pay tribute to the pioneering movements that deeply influenced the trajectory of artistic practice here in Israel and were foundational for a modernist visual and cultural vocabulary for Israel—and indeed for the spirit and aesthetic ethos of the Israel Museum itself at the time of its opening fifty years ago,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “Twilight over Berlin also takes on especially deep meaning both in Israel and in Germany, 50 years following the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two countries, recognizing our shared cultural heritage in modern times and also the vitality of creative cultural interchange between Germany and Israel today.”

Featuring artworks created between 1905 and 1945, Twilight over Berlin examines the flourishing of the visual arts from pre-World War I years, and through its struggle against oppression and persecution through Hitler’s ascent to power and World War II. Among the exhibition’s highlights are: 

  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s Potsdam Square (1914), one of a series of paintings by the artist that focused on street life in the modern metropolis of Berlin. Depicting two prostitutes with mask-like faces, the work reflects the influence of “primitive art” on this seminal German Expressionist.
  • Otto Dix’s The Skat Players (1920), an anti-militarist collage marking the artist’s transition from Dada to the socially critical New Realism, depicting three hideously disfigured officers in a café playing skat, a popular three-handed German card game.
  •  
  • Among the paintings included in the historic 1937 Degenerate Art exhibition in Munich, Emil Nolde’s Christ and the Sinner (1926), illustrates a scene from the Gospel of Saint Luke in a dramatically compressed pictorial frame in which the Pharisees condemn the prostitute Mary Magdalene as Jesus Christ embraces her.
  • George Grosz’s Pillars of Society (1926), a denunciation of German society and the Weimar Republic through four allegorical figures: the ear-less legal expert with a swastika on his tie and fencing weapon; a journalist with a chamber pot hat carrying a hypocritical palm frond; a politician whose brain is filled with steaming excrement; and a red-faced military chaplain in robes.
  • Christian Schad’s Sonja (1928), an iconic portrait of an androgynous office worker, dressed in fashionable clothes and smoking a Camel cigarette, alluding to the notion of the new independent woman.

Accompanying Twilight over Berlin, New Types: Three Pioneers of Hebrew Graphic Design further explores the foundational German heritage of Israel’s modern visual culture, focusing on the uniquely seminal influence of German designers on modern Hebrew typography and on the graphic arts.  Opening on October 20, 2015, this exhibition examines the history of Israeli typography through the drawings, sketches, and other documentation of three pioneering Israeli designers, Moshe Spitzer, Henri Friedlander, and Franziska Baruch, each of whom migrated to Palestine after training in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. The aesthetic consequences of this migration created the foundation for the typographic and graphic artistic culture of the new State of Israel—especially as designers sought to address the need to create a new printed language in modern Hebrew, being perhaps the most urgent design need in Israel’s first years—while also reflecting the ideological foundations and cultural aspirations of a new Israeli society.

Exhibition Organization

Twilight over Berlin: Masterworks from the Nationalgalerie, 1905-1945 is co-curated by Dr. Adina Kamien-Kazhdan, David Rockefeller Curator, The Stella Fischbach Department of Modern Art at the Israel Museum, and Dr. Dieter Scholz, Curator, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin.

New Types: Three Pioneers of Hebrew Graphic Design is curated by Guest Curator Ada Wardi.





The Shrine of the Book Celebrates 50 Years with
New Exhibition Gallery and Special Displays 

And Then There Was Nano features the smallest Bible in the world from the Technion

Architecture of the Shrine of the Book celebrates the Dead Sea Scrolls’ iconic home



Jerusalem,
(April 20, 2015) — Two special displays and a new exhibition gallery were inaugurated today to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Shrine of the Book, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls on the campus of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, which opened to the public in April 1965.  

And Then There Was Nano: The Smallest Bible in the World features the world's tiniest version of the Hebrew Bible, created at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The Nano Bible serves as a contemporary complement to the Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest Biblical manuscripts in the world, providing audiences with a unique opportunity to examine the technological evolution of the Hebrew Bible from antiquity to the postmodern era.   

On view concurrently, The Architecture of the Shrine of the Book is devoted to the unique history and design of the Shrine itself, an iconic work of 20th-century expressionist architecture, designed by Frederic Kiesler and Armand Bartos. Highlights of the Israel Museum’s anniversary celebrations throughout 2015, these special installations pay tribute to the Shrine of the Book’s opening in 1965, one month prior to the inauguration of the Museum’s entire campus. 

The Shrine’s new exhibition gallery opens on April 20 with the display of And Then There Was Nano: The Smallest Bible in the World, revealing to the public for the first time the world’s smallest copy of the Hebrew Bible.  Developed by the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion in Haifa, And Then There Was Nano showcases the incredible story of the world’s smallest Hebrew Bible etched onto a microchip no larger than a grain of sugar. The exhibition includes narrative presentations explaining the story behind the creation of the Nano Bible and details mediums through which the Hebrew Bible has been interpreted over time. 

“This exhibition writes a new chapter in the journey of the Book of Books from antiquity to the present—from the 2,000-year-old Dead Sea Scrolls to the 21st-century Nano Bible,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “This remarkable technological achievement extends the trajectory of the narrative of the Shrine of the Book and of the history of Biblical text from the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls 2,000 years ago to the most cutting-edge technology today.”

“Technion is delighted to partner with the Israel Museum and to take part in its 50th-anniversary celebrations,” said Technion President, Prof. Peretz Lavie. “The Nano Bible exhibition is a fascinating confluence of history, culture, and cutting-edge science—where the Land of the Bible meets the Start-Up Nation." 

What is the Nano Bible?  

The Nano Bible is gold-plated silicon chip the size of a pinhead on which the entire Hebrew Bible is engraved. The text, consisting of over 1.2 million letters, is carved on the 0.5mm2 chip by means of a focused ion beam. The beam dislodges gold atoms from the plating and creates letters, similar to the way the earliest inscriptions were carved in stone. The writing process takes about ninety minutes. The letters belong to a font unique to this technology and appear darker against their gold background. In order to read the text, it is necessary to use a microscope capable of 10,000 times magnification or higher. 

Employing a modern incarnation of an ancient writing technique, this technological marvel demonstrates the wonders of present-day miniaturization and provides the spectator with a tangible measure of the achievable dimensions. Dense information storage is not unique to human culture: the blueprints of all organisms are stored by nature at even higher densities in long DNA molecules and transmitted in this form over generations. 

The term "nano" derives from the Greek word nanos, meaning “dwarf.” The unit nanometer measures one billionth of a meter, a ratio similar to the size of an olive compared with the entire planet Earth. Nanotechnology makes it possible to construct new materials stronger and lighter than steel, to desalinate water more efficiently, to deliver medications to designated parts of the body without harming surrounding tissues, and to detect cancerous cells in early stages. At the dawn of the Nano Age, scientists and engineers are discovering ways to harness such exquisite control over the elementary building blocks of nature for the benefit of mankind and our planet.

The Nano Bible was conceived of and created by Prof. Uri Sivan and Dr. Ohad Zohar of the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa. It was made by engineers in the Sara and Moshe Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center and the Wolfson Microelectronics Research and Teaching Center. The first of two copies was presented by the former president of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, to Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Israel in 2009. The chip on display in the Israel Museum was produced especially for the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center of the Shrine of the Book.

The Architecture of the Shrine of the Book

Marking the Shrine of the Book’s 50th anniversary, this exhibition is devoted to the design of the Shrine itself—an icon of modernist architecture—and to its architects, Frederick Kiesler and Armand Bartos. On display are preliminary sketches of the Shrine by Kiesler, shown to the public for the first time, as well as examples of his “correalistic” furniture that illustrate his distinctive approach to design and architecture. 

The exhibition also features photographs documenting the construction of the Shrine, which was a technological feat of heroic proportions in Israel in the 1960’s, and its early years, when it served as a site of pilgrimage for photographers and for the public at large. 

The Architecture of the Shrine of the Book is co-curated by Osnat Sirkin, Associate Curator, Department of Design and Architecture, and Yudit Caplan, Head of the Section for Photographic Estates. 

And Then There Was Nano Exhibition Organization

And Then There Was Nano is co- curated by Dr. Adolfo Roitman, Lizbeth and George Krupp Curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Head of the Shrine of the Book, and Rotem Arieli, Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center, and was made possible through the generosity of the Russell Berrie Foundation.  

About the Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center

The Dorot Foundation Dead Sea Scrolls Information and Study Center in memory of Joy Gottesman Ungerleider was inaugurated in 2007 and renewed in April 2015 to feature its new temporary exhibition gallery on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Shrine of the Book.  Both projects were made possible through the generosity of the Dorot Foundation, Providence, RI. In establishing the Foundation, Joy Ungerleider followed in the footsteps of her father, D. S. Gottesman, who helped support the construction of the Shrine in 1965 and contributed to the purchase of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

About the Technion-Israel Institute for Technology 

Founded in 1912, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is the oldest university in Israel. The Technion offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in science and engineering, and related fields such as architecture, medicine, industrial management and education. It has eighteen academic departments and over fifty research centers. Since its founding, it has awarded over 100,000 degrees. Among the Technion’s more than 600 faculty members are three Nobel Laureates.

The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world, including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology.

In December 2011, a bid by the Technion with Cornell University, won the competition to establish an applied science and engineering institution in New York City-Cornell Tech, home of the Jacobs Technion Cornell Institute. In 2013, the Technion signed with China’s Shantou University to establish the Guangdong-Technion Israel Institute of Technology in China.


Major Antiquities Collection of Over 350 Works Including
Ancient Glass and Greco-Roman Art and Archaeology Donated to Israel Museum by Robert and Renée Belfer 

Unprecedented Gift Transforms Museum’s Collection into One of Most Important Public Holdings of Ancient Glass Worldwide 

 

Roman bronze statue of a young god or athlete, dated to circa 50 BCE

 

Jerusalem, (February 18,  2015) —The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, today announced a transformative gift of more than 350 works of art and artifacts from antiquity by Robert and Renée Belfer, New York. Considered among the most significant private holdings of antiquities in the world, the Belfer Collection features hundreds of ancient Greco-Roman and Near-Eastern glass vessels—recognized as some of the most impressive specimens of their kind—as well as important early examples of Greco-Roman sculpture in bronze, marble, and mosaic. Select objects from the collection will be on view at the Museum, beginning in June 2015, in a special exhibition exploring the culture of collecting and connoisseurship in ancient Rome. A Roman Villa—The Belfer Collection will be a centerpiece of the Museum’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, which, throughout 2015, will highlight gifts across all of the Museum’s collections on the occasion of this milestone year. 

“The donation of this unparalleled collection enables us to extend the rich narrative of ancient civilizations as told through the Museum’s holdings in archaeology,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Museum. “Our focus in archaeology is the story of the ancient Land of Israel, and the Belfer Collection notably enhances our ability to broaden our story to the critically important history of ancient Israel’s neighboring cultures and the foundational role that Greco-Roman civilization played in the history that then extends to our own time. We are profoundly grateful to the Belfers for this outstanding generosity and for the message that it sends, at the start of our 50th Anniversary year, about the worldwide support that has contributed to the growth of the Museum and its collections since its founding.”

The Belfers have been prominent art world patrons and longtime supporters of the Israel Museum, and Renée Belfer currently serves as Chair of the Executive Committee of the American Friends of the Israel Museum. The Belfer Collection, notable for its exceptional holdings in ancient glass, includes: 

Approximately 300 ancient glass works from the earliest stages of glass production in the Late Bronze Age through the Islamic period, including rare, exquisitely preserved core-formed and cast vessels, early blown glass and extremely rare blown Roman glass, and sumptuous masterpieces of mold-blown and mosaic glass. 

Greek, Southern Italian, and Etruscan pottery, including an outstanding Attic black amphora depicting mythological scenes of the Greek heroes Heracles and Theseus with a lid, attributed to Group E and dated to circa 540 BCE.

Approximately 50 Greek and Roman sculptures and reliefs, among them a 1st-century CE marble head of a youth, a Roman copy of a Greek original (5th century BCE), by the renowned sculptor Polycletus; and an important Roman bronze statue of a young god or athlete, dated to circa 50 BCE. 

Mosaics, including a unique 2nd century CE Roman example with a bird’s-eye view of a city with an amphitheater, Poseidon and Amphitrite, and two ships with sailors. 

“When deciding on an ideal home for our collection, we could not think of a more fitting venue than the Israel Museum, especially for its emphasis on the foundational narrative of humankind that is so relevant to us all today,” said Renée Belfer. “Our collection represents an important chapter in the history of civilization, and we are delighted to bestow the Israel Museum with this gift on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary so that it may preserve and share the story of these ancient objects in perpetuity from Jerusalem, one of the central sites of that long history.” 

From June to November 2015, a selection of works from the Belfer Collection will be presented together for the first time at the Museum in a special exhibition. Curated by Dr. Silvia Rozenberg, the Rodney E. Soher Senior Curator of Classical Archaeology, and Natasha Katsenelson, Curator of Ancient Glass, A Roman Villa will feature highlights from the Belfer Collection in a display designed to illustrate the lifestyle of powerful Roman aristocrats from the 1st century BCE through the 3rd century CE, when Rome was first transformed into a major cultural and artistic center.  The exhibition will examine how Rome’s elite class decorated their homes with the finest examples of Greco-Roman sculpture and magnificent Hellenistic and Roman glass objects and mosaics to demonstrate their standing in public and social life.

 


 

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2015 

Year-Long Season of Special Exhibitions and Programs Illuminates Visual Culture in Israel from its Early 20th Century Roots in Europe to its Most Contemporary Expressions Today

A Centerpiece of the Anniversary Year is A Brief History of Humankind as Told through Twelve Seminal Works from Museum’s Universal Holdings 

Jerusalem (February 9, 2015) — The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2015 with a year-long series of special exhibitions reflecting on the Museum’s achievements since its founding and underscoring the local and universal dimensions of its collections and programming. From exhibitions uniting seminal works from across the Museum’s encyclopedic holdings, to displays showcasing masterworks on loan from sister institutions, the Museum’s anniversary year features the shared narratives of cultures and civilizations worldwide. Special focus is given to the trajectory of Israel’s own visual culture, from its roots in Europe more than 100 years ago, to the founding of the Museum in 1965, through the present day.  Major gifts across all of the Museum’s collections that have been committed since the Museum’s renewal in 2010 are also on view throughout the year, highlighting the breadth of support worldwide that has contributed to the ongoing growth of the Museum’s encyclopedic holdings.

“Since the Israel Museum’s founding in 1965, we have made remarkable strides in building a preeminent collection that stretches across the breadth of world culture and reflects the global cultural and historical narrative that is shared by all of our audiences,” said James S. Snyder, the Museum’s Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “Throughout 2015, we are celebrating our accomplishments over the past 50 years, in parallel with the unfolding of Israel’s visual cultural history during this same time and in relation to the 50 preceding years of modernist visual culture in Europe that would become the foundation for Israel’s aesthetic heritage.  We also look forward to the next chapter in the Museum’s history, building both on the transformative renewal achieved across our 20-acre campus in 2010 and on the generosity and support of our network of international friends, as well as the collegial support of our sister institutions worldwide.”  

“It is a rare privilege to have led the Museum’s Board of Directors for more than a decade, and it is particularly rewarding now as we celebrate this tremendous institutional milestone,” said Isaac Molho, Chairman of the Museum’s Board. “When he founded our Museum five decades ago, Teddy Kollek envisioned a truly encyclopedic museum in Israel.  In the years since, the Museum has succeeded in creating meaningful connections with cultures from around the globe and with our nation’s creative heritage. I am certain that the Museum’s message of universalism, emanating from Jerusalem, will continue to resonate across the world’s cultural landscape within Israel and internationally.”

Kicking off the Museum’s celebratory year are several solo exhibitions by contemporary Israeli artists working today— offering snapshots of Israel’s visual creativity of the moment—coupled with an examination of Israel’s visual culture at the time of the Museum’s founding. 1965 Today (March 31 – August 29, 2015) immerses visitors in the visual character of Israel during the mid-1960s, beginning with a dioramic illustration of the popular design aesthetic of the time. The exhibition includes works by artists who participated in Israel’s emerging art scene and also references the art and artists they would have seen or known internationally at the time.  Complementary exhibitions focus on early film and photographic imagery from the same era and on the iconic graphic design work of one of Israel’s most important practitioners during the mid-1960s. Concurrently, 6 Artists 6 Projects (February 10 – August 29, 2015) presents new works by some of today’s leading contemporary artists in Israel, whose practice resonates in counterpoint with the aesthetic traditions that accompanied the opening of the Museum 50 years earlier. 

Opening in May as a centerpiece of the anniversary year is a focused exhibition that features twelve pivotal objects from across the Museum’s collections that illustrate the history of human civilization from prehistoric times through the present day. A Brief History of Humankind (May 1 – December 26, 2015) presents a series of seminal objects—from the first evidence of communal fire nearly 800,000 years ago, to early depictions of gods and goddesses, to the earliest evidence of writing, and finally to Albert Einstein’s original manuscript for the special theory of relativity—that each in its own way represents a turning point in the trajectory of civilized human history. 

The second half of the anniversary year, opening in the fall, surveys the European roots of modern visual culture in Israel. Twilight Over Berlin (September 27, 2015 – January 30, 2016) features 50 masterworks that celebrate the avant-garde freedom that flourished in Germany in the first half of the 20th century. Among others, Expressionists Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and Emil Nolde and such Weimar-period innovators as Max Beckmann and Otto Dix are represented with works on loan from the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin through an institutional partnership that marks the concurrent celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany. At the same time, the Museum presents companion exhibitions spotlighting the European modernist heritage that influenced the pioneers of modern Israeli typography, graphic arts, and architecture. Together, this ensemble of exhibitions amplifies the ways in which aesthetic traditions migrated from Europe to Palestine in the period before World War II and became foundational for the development of Israel’s visual culture and, in parallel, of the Museum itself.  

Coinciding with the Museum’s anniversary celebrations are two special installations in the Museum’s Shrine of the Book—home to the Dead Sea Scrolls—which opened to the public in April 1965 as a prelude to the inauguration of the Museum’s entire campus. On view beginning April 19, 2015, is a dedicated display examining the history of the Shrine itself, whose design by Frederic J. Kiesler and Armand P. Bartos has been lauded as an icon of international modernist architecture, as well as being the only permanently executed example of Kiesler’s trademark language of expressionist modernism. Additionally, as a contemporary counterpoint to the ancient history of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the world’s smallest Hebrew Bible, the Nano Bible created by the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will go on view for the first time.

For a complete listing of 50th Anniversary programming, please refer to the Advance Exhibition Schedule available online.

Sponsorship and Credits

The anniversary season in 2015 is generously supported by the Museum’s 50th Anniversary Exhibition Fund: Herta and Paul Amir, Los Angeles; Foundation Albert Amon, Lausanne, Switzerland; Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman, Los Angeles, and Stephen and Claudine Bronfman, Montreal, in honor of three generations of Bronfman family support for the Museum; Claudia Davidoff, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in memory of Ruth and Leon Davidoff; The Gottesman Family, Tel Aviv and New York, in memory of Dov Gottesman and in honor of Rachel Gottesman; The Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Providence, Rhode Island, in honor of Sylvia Hassenfeld; Alice and Nahum Lainer, Los Angeles; The Nash Family Foundation, New York; and Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Foundation in Israel.

 

New Work by Leading Contemporary Israeli Artists Unveiled at Israel Museum in Honor of 50th Anniversary Year

6 Artists, 6 Projects Features Photography, Sculpture, and Installation by Uri Gershuni, Roi Kuper, Dana Levy, Tamir Lichtenberg, Ido Michaeli, and Gilad Ratman

Roi Kuper, Gaza Dream (Be’eri), 2014; Inkjet print. Collection of the artist.

Jerusalem (February 2, 2015)  — Inaugurating the Israel Museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations is a special exhibition featuring the diversity of creative practice in Israeli art today. On view from February 10 through August 29, 2015, 6 Artists, 6 Projects embraces genres from photography to installation and features a roster of internationally recognized artists from Israel, including Uri Gershuni, Roi Kuper, Dana Levy, Tamir Lichtenberg, Ido Michaeli, and Gilad Ratman. Their works capture snapshots of the rich spectrum of artistic perspectives emerging from Israel’s flourishing contemporary art scene and explore themes ranging from personal and collective histories, to power and economic structures.  

6 Artists, 6 Projects extends the Museum’s engagement with contemporary aesthetic expression from the time of the Museum’s opening fifty years ago and offers a counterpoint to 1965 Today (March 31 – August 29, 2015), which immerses visitors in the visual character of Israel in 1965, the year of the Museum’s founding.

“This exhibition continues the Israel Museum’s fifty year tradition of supporting the art of the ‘now’, positioning works by some of the most engaging artists in Israel today within the timeline of world culture featured throughout our universal holdings,” said James S. Snyder, the Museum’s Anne and Jerome Fisher Director. “Although common practice today in museums worldwide, presenting contemporary art in an encyclopedic museum setting was a pioneering concept in 1965. The Museum’s 50th anniversary this year offers an opportunity for reflecting on the continuing evolution of the arts in Israel, and, in this display, specifically through the lens of six thought-provoking artists whose works stand out both in concept and in their unique use of materials and mediums.”

The six featured artists and projects include the following:

• Uri Gershuni’s The Blue Hour (2014) continues the artist’s ongoing exploration of the life and work of 19th-century British inventor of photography Sir William Henry Fox Talbot. What started as a photographic journey to Lacock Abbey—Talbot’s former compound in England—evolved into another exploration of the location, this time a virtual one, through Google Street View. Using early photographic techniques to manipulate screen-shots of the site, Gershuni creates haunting pictures that prompt questions about the differences between the material conditions of painting and photography, and between visual histories of the West and the present state of local contemporary art. This project extends Gershuni’s continuing examination of contemporary photography in the context of its history and the abstraction that occurs throughout the photographic process.

• Roi Kuper offers an unusual perspective on Israel’s southern border with Gaza Dream (2014), for which the artist composed photographic panoramas of Gaza Strip from all directions. In his signature style, Kuper captures images of plowed fields, pale blue skies, and the dusty, pinkish-gray horizon of the distant city, as landscapes that are both familiar and foreign. Taken from the border, these photographic views from afar resonate with how public opinion and public consciousness envision Gaza and reveal some of the region’s recent, tumultuous history. This series builds on Kuper’s practice of creating philosophical and existentially charged photographic works that resonate with Israel’s political landscape and national identity.

• Dana Levy’s Literature of Storms (2014) is a video installation embedded with a collage of imagery linking disparate times and places. In this work, Levy projects internet-found footage of Hurricane Sandy onto original 1920s interior design magazine pages. By superimposing references to a North American storm over symbols of European modernist ideals—which Levy associates with the background of Zionism and the development of young Israel—the artist grapples with the environmental and political aftermath of local and global “progress.” This critical approach is complimented by another, large video-art piece, in which Levy samples sounds of recent oil drilling technologies over phosphoric close-ups of shrubbery in the endangered Everglades National Park in Florida. Levy is known for her work in video, video installation, and photography, through which she investigates socio-political issues and explores memory, identity, and the relationship between nature and the man-made.

• Calling into question the economics of the art world, Tamir Lichtenberg’s Package Deal (2013–2014) is the sum total of the artist’s output over the course of one year, divided into monthly segments. For the project, Lichtenberg presold a month’s work to collectors, patrons, and institutions for the price of an average monthly salary in Israel. In return, the buyer received a package containing unknown art products that Lichtenberg created during one month (videos, drawings, poems, sound works, and found objects). The entire year’s worth of work will be united for the first time at the Israel Museum in an installation rich with poetry, humor, and nuance. Based in Tel Aviv, Lichtenberg’s practice is informed by conceptual frameworks that blur the boundaries between art and life and examine the encounter between “human nature and the nature of things.”

• Using a complex network of symbols and historical references, Ido Michaeli depicts an allegory of social structure in Bank Hapoalim Carpet (2014). The woven work is an “image bank” of sorts—including examples of early Israeli art from the Bezalel period, archaeological artifacts, socialist imagery, and Renaissance art to depict social hierarchies among the classes. Bank Hapoalim Carpet was woven in Kabul, Afghanistan, where Michaeli's detailed preparatory sketch was smuggled. The extensive journey the carpet made—from a letter-sized sketch all the way to Afghanistan and back to Israel as a finished object—is documented in a video as part of the installation. 

• Gilad Ratman’s Five Bands from Romania (2011–15) is a complex audio-visual installation featuring five Romanian heavy metal bands playing outdoors with amplifiers buried in a pit dug into the ground. The piece takes its inspiration from the 1991 concert by the heavy metal band Metallica in Moscow, which symbolized the end of the Communist era, and from the 1972 film "Pink Floyd Live in Pompeii". The result is a surreal blend of distorted guitar, drumming, and vocals erupting from the earth, creating an experience in which the intersection of western themes of freedom and self-expression collide with the lasting impact of 20th century Eastern Europe’s history. Ratman, who represented Israel at the 53rd Venice Biennale, creates videos and installations that probe untenable aspects of human behavior— among them pain, struggle, and wildness.

Exhibition Organization 

6 Artists, 6 Projects is organized by the Israel Museum and curated by Mira Lapidot, Yulla and Jacques Lipchitz Chief Curator of the Fine Arts; Dr. Noam Gal, Horace and Grace Goldsmith Senior Curator of the Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography; Amitai Mendelsohn, Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art; and Aya Miron, Associate Curator, David Orgler Department of Israeli Art.

50th Anniversary Exhibition Program Sponsorship 

The Israel Museum’s 2015 anniversary exhibition season is generously supported by the donors to the Museum’s 50th Anniversary Exhibition Fund: Herta and Paul Amir, Los Angeles; Foundation Albert Amon, Lausanne, Switzerland; Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman, Los Angeles and Stephen and Claudine Bronfman, Montreal, in honor of three generations of Bronfman family support for the Museum; Claudia Davidoff, Cambridge, Massachusetts, in memory of Ruth and Leon Davidoff; The Gottesman Family, Tel Aviv and New York, in memory of Dov Gottesman and in honor of Rachel Gottesman; The Hassenfeld Family Foundation, Providence, Rhode Island, in honor of Sylvia Hassenfeld; Alice and Nahum Lainer, Los Angeles; The Nash Family Foundation, New York; and Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Foundation in Israel.

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the leading art and archaeology museums in the world. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections ranging from prehistory through contemporary art and includes the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world, among them the Dead Sea Scrolls. Over its first fifty years, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of more than 500,000 objects through an unparalleled legacy of gifts and support from its circle of patrons worldwide. 

The Museum’s 20-acre campus, which underwent a comprehensive renewal in 2010 designed by James Carpenter Design Associates and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects, features the Billy Rose Art Garden, the Shrine of the Book, and more than 225,000 square feet of collection gallery and temporary exhibition space. The Museum also organizes programming at its off-site locations in Jerusalem at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, where it presents archaeological artifacts from the Land of Israel; and at its historic Ticho House, a venue for exhibitions of contemporary Israeli art.  

The Shrine of the Book houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, among these the world's oldest biblical manuscripts, as well as other rare biblical manuscripts. This monumental structure has become an icon in Israel and around the world, its shrine-like interior affording visitors a rich spiritual experience. 

The Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary throughout 2015, with a year-long program devoted to an exploration of Israel’s aesthetic heritage in the fifty years before and after its founding. 


Contacts:

Israel:
The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
PO Box 71117
Jerusalem 9171002
Debbie Rapps, Foreign Press Officer
debbiera@imj.org.il   Tel: 972-2-6708935

Israel Press Office
Tel: 02-670-8868
Fax: 02-670-8063

USA:
Resnicow Schroeder Associates, Inc.
Tel: 212-5950515
Fax: 212-5958354
Leah Sandals / Jocelyn London
lsandals / jlondon@resnicowschroeder.com
212-6715154 / 5157