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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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.
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.
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