A visit to the Israel Museum is the perfect cultural pastime thanks to the unique and fascinating permanent exhibitions that are presented during the opening hours of the museum. The permanent exhibitions of the Israel Museum will take you on a journey following ancient scrolls, Jewish history, and the world of art. So which permanent exhibitions can you be impressed by?
Recommended Permanent Exhibitions at the Israel Museum
The permanent exhibitions of the Israel Museum will take you on a journey following ancient scrolls, Jewish history, and the world of art.
The Synagogue Route
[caption id="attachment_288804" align="alignnone" width="450"] Photo: Courtesy of the Israel Museum[/caption] Join an experiential journey following four synagogues from three continents that are displayed in the museum with their main features, including Torah arks, bimahs, prayer benches and more. The different design styles of the synagogues teach us about the effects of the environment and the nature of community life in the places where they were placed at the time. The synagogue from the town of Vittorio Veneto in northern Italy, built in 1700, was designed in a typical Italian Baroque style reminiscent of a guest room in the palace of a noblewoman. Unlike it, the Kadavumbagam Synagogue from Cochin in southern India, from the 16th century, is a wood-carved structure whose spectacular ceiling is decorated with motifs similar to those seen in mosques and Hindu temples. The synagogue from Horb, in southern Germany, was built in the first half of the 18th century. Its walls and ceiling are wood-paneled and decorated with paintings and inscriptions by a well-known artist. This synagogue is a rare relic of an artistic tradition, typical to the wooden synagogues in the rural areas of Poland and Germany. Tzedek ve-Shalom Synagogue, built in the 18th century in Suriname, South America, tells the story of Sephardic-Portuguese Jews who came from Europe to the"New World." In addition to the synagogues, you may witness the impressive decorations for Torah scrolls, including mantels, cases, markers, and rimonim, as well as parochets belonging to many communities around the world, from Morocco to Poland, from Afghanistan to the Netherlands. All of these together invite the visitor to join a historical and geographical journey that reveals diverse traditions and influences.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
[caption id="attachment_288873" align="alignnone" width="450"] Photo: Courtesy of the Israel Museum[/caption] The Hebrew Bible is the cornerstone of the Jewish people and this fundamental text has left its imprint on Christianity and Islam. The exhibition at the Shrine of the Book Complex represents a journey through time, which, adopting a scholarly-historical approach, traces the evolution of the Book of Books. The upper galleries take the visitor from the oldest extant biblical manuscripts, which were discovered in the Judean Desert, through the story of the sectarians living at Qumran, who attempted to translate the biblical ideals embodied in these texts into a way of life. The lower galleries tell the remarkable tale of the Aleppo Codex – the most accurate manuscript of the Masoretic text and the closest to the text of the printed Hebrew Bibles used today. The Shrine of the Book was built as a repository for the first seven scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947. The unique white dome embodies the lids of the jars in which the first scrolls were found. This symbolic building, a kind of sanctuary intended to express profound spiritual meaning, is considered an international landmark of modern architecture. Designed by American Jewish architects Armand P. Bartos and Frederic J. Kiesler, it was dedicated to an impressive ceremony on April 20, 1965. Its location next to official institutions of the State of Israel—the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), key government offices, and the Jewish National and University Library—is appropriate considering the degree of national importance that has been accorded the ancient texts and the building that preserves them. The contrast between the white dome and the black wall alongside it alludes to the tension evident in the scrolls between the spiritual world of the “Sons of Light” (as the Judean Desert sectarians called themselves) and the “Sons of Darkness” (the sect’s enemies). The corridor leading into the Shrine resembles a cave, recalling the site where the ancient manuscripts were discovered.
[caption id="attachment_288798" align="alignnone" width="450"] Photo: Courtesy of the Israel Museum[/caption] The Israeli Art galleries present the works of artists from the beginning of the twentieth century until today. Israeli art has always found itself pulled in two conflicting directions; the need to address what was happening outside, and the desire to focus on the autonomous concerns of art itself, of material, method, and definition. Moreover, it has always developed in a complex context of socio-political tension, war, and bloodshed, a context in which it is impossible to separate everyday individual life from the historical and the mythical. Art’s response to this loaded reality is complex. Initially, in the first decades of the 20th century, many Jewish artists were unable to see or unwilling to portray that complexity; instead, they painted an idealistic, optimistic, and often naïve picture that reflected their hopeful vision of the future. Reuven Rubin’s famous painting First Fruits is a good example. Rubin drew the land as an Oriental paradise, a place of harmony and fertility – the perfect setting for the birth of a new kind of Jew and the shaping of native Israeli identity. Alongside these artists, others expressed social and political engagement through their art, depicting a more sober reality in an attempt to bring about change. Naftali Bezem’s To the Aid of the Seamen refers to the seamen’s strike which broke out in 1951 and triggered heated debates on Israel’s kibbutzim over whether or not to support the strike. The commitment to art for art’s sake was a powerful force, with many artists devoting themselves to composition, line, color, and material in an attempt to define the relationship between visible reality and a creative act that articulates the artist’s innermost spirit. Yosef Zaritsky’s Yehiam is a good example. The indistinct human figures he inserted in the composition resemble patches of vegetation, and they communicate a tension between the natural and the human, between figuration and abstraction. Many artists straddled both camps. Their multilayered work combines personal and collective concerns. Such is Larry Abramson, who drew on newspapers from June 1967, the time of the Six-Day War, a black square, a skull, outlines of plants and planks, cracks and fragments. The motifs have been a staple of his work for many years alongside images referencing art histories – such as Malevich’s avant-garde black square and the skull which symbolizes human mortality, take on new meaning when read against a chronicle of national events that would forever change the face of Israel.
- 11 DERECH RUPPIN, JERUSALEM
- 11 DERECH RUPPIN, JERUSALEM