Jerusalem’s Israel Museum receives $100million facelift

August 6, 2010 Agencies
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The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is home to the most comprehensive collection of Australian and New Zealand artifacts in the region and has recently completed a $100million  refurbishment.

A spokesperson for the Museum told J-Wire: “The Oceanic art  collection at the Israel museum is the largest and most comprehensive in Israel. The Australian Aboriginal and New Zealand Maori artefacts in our collection are the only ones of their kind in Israel.  There is no other museum or institution that I know of that has holdings such as ours.

The Israel Museum

Australian Aboriginal and Papuan  material were given to the Israel museum at a very early stage, in large quantities, by Carl Shipman who was a German Jew who immigrated to Australia pre WWII.  He became a very successful businessman with great interest in anthropology and the material culture of the indigenous people of Australia and Papua – where he would travel with his family and collect directly from the tribal groups or from  European dealers.  His family still lives in Australia and I am in touch with them.  His collection formed the basis for the Oceanic art collection in those early times ( early ’60’s) when Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s  famous  mayor, was aiming at making the Israel museum the Encyclopaedic cultural institution,  it has become.

The Australian Aboriginal collection  has everything from primitive stone tools ( all marked with the name of the site in which they were found) to early Arnheim land bark paintings.  As the collection grew over the years we have received from other donors, world wide, many more objects, some including wonderful Tiwi sculptures and contemporary Aboriginal dot paintings, by artists who have become well known since.

The Maori art was donated to us by our major donors, after whom the gallery halls are named – Faith-dorian and Martin Wright, of New York – who are important collectors of  African and Oceanic art.   The Maori art we have  is part of our extensive Polynesian art  holdings.   We have some old and beautiful Maori carvings  all to be exhibited in our new Oceanic art permanent exhibition display.

It is important to remember that we are lucky enough to have these collections, because of the generosity and commitment of  Jewish donors who have always had a humanitarian interest in “the other”.  Their intellectual curiosity brought them closer to these “exotic” cultures allowing them to study the material and the spiritual as it manifests itself in other peoples lives.”

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, inaugurated its renewed 20-acre campus, featuring new galleries, orientation facilities, and public spaces last month. The three-year expansion and renewal project was designed to enhance visitor experience of the Museum’s art, architecture, and surrounding landscape, in complement to the original architecture and design of the campus. Led by James Carpenter Design Associates of New York and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects of Tel Aviv, the $100-million project also includes the comprehensive renovation and reconfiguration of the Museum’s three collection wings – for archaeology, the fine arts, and Jewish art and life – and the reinstallation of its encyclopedic collections.

The Museum opens its renewed galleries with a series of exhibitions highlighting new acquisitions and long-held masterpieces across its collections. In addition, to celebrate the project’s completion, artists Zvi Goldstein, Susan Hiller, and Yinka Shonibare have curated Artists’ Choices, a special three-part exhibition that juxtaposes works from all three of the Museum’s collection wings. The renewed campus will also feature two new monumental commissions – Olafur Eliasson’s Whenever the rainbow appears and Anish Kapoor’s Turning The World Upside Down, Jerusalem – which respond directly to the Museum’s site and setting.

Completing the inauguration of the renewed campus, a special week-long series of public programs and events is planned, including concerts by prominent Israeli musicians, activities in the galleries for all audiences, and a late-night art and music festival, engaging artists, writers, and performers with the renewed Museum and its landscape.

“Forty-five years after the Israel Museum first opened its magnificent campus, we have completed a renewal project that allows us to serve our public as never before,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “The most ambitious undertaking in our history, this project has yielded a truly transformational change across our site. We look forward to welcoming our visitors to the Museum’s stunning new public spaces and galleries, planned to provide a richer and more enjoyable experience of our unparalleled collections and of our powerful Jerusalem hilltop setting.”The Israel Museum has seen tremendous growth since the 1965 opening of its original landmark campus, designed by Alfred Mansfeld and Dora Gad as a modernist reference to Mediterranean hilltop villages. The Museum’s architectural footprint has increased ten-fold since its opening, and its collections have grown significantly throughout this time and particularly in the past ten years. The project, which broke ground in June 2007, doubles the Museum’s gallery space and grows its architectural footprint by approximately 15%, all within the Museum’s existing 20-acre campus. In total, it encompasses 7,800 square meters (84,000 square feet) of new construction and 19,000 square meters (204,500 square feet) of renovated and expanded gallery space.

Isaac Molho, Chairman of the Museum’s Board of Directors, said, “The Israel Museum’s campus renewal project strengthens the Museum’s position as one of the most important social and cultural centers in the country – giving it a standing of the highest priority in the State – and also as one of the most outstanding museums in the world. The renewed Museum will provide generations of visitors, both from Israel and from abroad, with unique experiences of the art, culture, and history of communities throughout time and around the globe.”

The project is supported by a $100-million capital campaign, which was completed in December 2009 and represents the largest collective philanthropic initiative ever undertaken for a single cultural institution in the State of Israel. The Museum is also in the midst of an endowment campaign and has raised nearly $60 million toward its $75-million goal, which will double its institutional endowment to $150 million, comprising the largest endowment for any cultural institution in the country.

New Architecture and Design

Designed by James Carpenter Design Associates to resonate with the original campus plan, the project’s new architecture offers visitors an integrated experience of art and archeology, landscape and architectural design. Visitors are now welcomed to the Museum through three newly constructed glass entry pavilions – housing ticketing and information, retail, and restaurant facilities. Echoing the modernist geometry of the Museum’s original buildings, these glass pavilions are shaded within cast terracotta louvered housings, designed to soften and diffuse the bright Mediterranean light while encouraging a dialogue between interior and exterior spaces across the campus. Beyond these entrance pavilions, visitors may either ascend the Museum’s refurbished Carter Promenade or enter a newly designed route of passage, situated directly below the promenade. Leading visitors to the heart of the Museum, this enclosed route is a highlight of Carpenter’s design to enhance visitor experience and clarify circulation throughout the campus. The walkway is flanked on one side by a translucent glass wall with a water feature running along its top edge, also visible from Carter Promenade above.

This route brings visitors into the lowest level of a new three-story gallery entrance pavilion, providing centralized access to the Museum’s three collection wings and temporary exhibition galleries on its main floor, while also allowing visitors to reach the Museum’s uppermost Crown Plaza via its top floor. Like the new entrance facilities, the gallery entrance pavilion is a glass building housed within a terracotta louvered shade enclosure, which provides a visual counterpoint to the stone-clad facades of the Museum’s original buildings.

In addition to the creation of these new visitor facilities, the Museum reconstructed all three of its collection wings – the Samuel and Saidye Bronfman Archaeology Wing, the Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing, and the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel Wing for Jewish Art and Life – enabling visitors to navigate intuitively through the timeline of material culture, from prehistory to present day. Highlights include: a chronological presentation of the Museum’s unparalleled archaeological holdings from the ancient Land of Israel; the first permanent galleries for Israeli Art and more than double the gallery space for the extensive Modern Art holdings in the Fine Arts Wing; and a newly configured Synagogue Route at the heart of the Jewish Art and Life Wing.

Inaugural Exhibitions

The Museum unveils its new collection galleries and temporary exhibition facilities with a series of exhibitions highlighting the breadth and depth of its encyclopedic holdings, ranging from prehistoric archaeology of the Holy Land to contemporary visual culture worldwide. Highlights include:

Artists’ Choices: Zvi Goldstein, Susan Hiller, Yinka Shonibare

Through January 2011, Harry and Bella Wexner Gallery

This three-part exhibition is curated by renowned artists Zvi Goldstein, Susan Hiller, and Yinka Shonibare, each of whom offers a fresh look at the Museum’s encyclopedic holdings by juxtaposing works from all three of its collection wings. Unique in its scope and character, the project showcases masterworks from across the Museum’s collections and presents a dialogue between the collections and the artists themselves.

Still / Moving

Through April 2011, Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing

Exploring the use of slow and meditative movement in a variety of mediums, including installation, video, and photography, Still / Moving draws from the Museum’s wide-ranging holdings in contemporary art and features new acquisitions and key works by such artists as Carlos Amorales, Olafur Eliasson, Mona Hatoum, Junya Ishigami, Aernout Mik, and Bill Viola.

A Rare Gift: The Noel and Harriette Levine Collection of PhotographsThrough October 2, 2010, Edmond and Lily Safra Fine Arts Wing

The Noel and Harriette Levine Photography Collection is considered among the finest photography collections in private hands and was gifted to the Museum in 2008. This premiere public exhibition comprises 117 works spanning over 170 years of work in the medium.

Site-Specific Commissions

The new campus features two new monumental installations by Olafur Eliasson and Anish Kapoor, which respond directly to the Museum’s landscape and architecture, and continue its long tradition of site-specific collaborations with contemporary artists. Eliasson’s Whenever the rainbow appears, installed at the end of the Museum’s new route of passage, recreates the visible light spectrum in a series of 360 monochromatically painted canvases.  Measuring more than thirteen meters (nearly 44 feet) long, the work reads from afar as an extended continuum of color. Kapoor’s Turning The World Upside Down, Jerusalem occupies a prominent place on Crown Plaza, the highest outdoor point on the Museum’s campus. Standing five meters (thirteen feet) high, the sculpture captures both the Jerusalem sky and the landscape of the campus in its polished stainless steel surfaces.

Inaugural Events

The Museum opened its doors to the public with a week of concerts by prominent Israeli musicians, activities in the galleries for all audiences, and a late-night art and music festival, engaging artists, writers, and performers with the renewed Museum’s galleries and landscape.  All events are free with Museum admission. Throughout this week, the Museum is also extending its opening hours, offering tours of new exhibitions and gallery installations, art workshops for children, and live music in the galleries. Legendary musician Shalom Hanoch  performed an evening concert in the Billy Rose Art Garden, The celebration culminated on Thursday, July 29, with an evening concert by Yehudit Ravitz in the Art Garden, followed by “Contact Point,” a night of activities throughout the campus in conjunction with the Jerusalem Season of Culture, including dramatic encounters between artists, writers, and performers with artworks in the galleries and across the landscape, and an innovative “silent party” surrounding Kapoor’s Turning The World Upside Down, Jerusalem on Crown Plaza.

Festivities will continue into the month of August with the Museum’s annual Wine-Tasting Festival and its annual Kite-Flying Festival, an Art Garden concert by celebrated performer Yehuda Poliker, and other art and music activities throughout the campus.

Capital and Endowment Campaigns

The $100-million capital campaign for the Museum’s renewed campus represents the largest collective philanthropic effort ever undertaken for a single cultural institution in the State of Israel. It has benefited from the generosity of individuals, families, and foundations around the world and in Israel, with more than $80 million raised from some 20 sources worldwide. An additional $17.5 million in matching support has been provided by the State of Israel. The Museum has also raised nearly $60 million toward its $75-million goal for its endowment campaign, which upon completion will double the Museum’s institutional endowment to a total of $150 million.

The international donors who contributed to the Museum’s capital campaign with individual gifts ranging from $1 million to $10 million include: Herta and Paul Amir, Los Angeles; Judy and Michael Steinhardt, New York; the Estate of Dorothea Gould, Zurich; the Nash Family Foundation, New York; the Marc Rich Foundation, Lucerne; the Bella and Harry Wexner Philanthropies of The Legacy Heritage Fund, New York and Jerusalem; and Linda and Harry Macklowe, New York. Donors in Israel, whose contributions total $10 million, include challenge grants from the Schusterman Foundation – Israel and Yad Hanadiv, the Rothschild Foundation in Israel, and matching grants from: the Federmann Family, Tel Aviv; Debbie and Erel Margalit, Jerusalem; Dina, Michael, and Oudi Recanati, Tel Aviv; Rivka Saker and Uzi Zucker, New York and Tel Aviv; and Judith and Israel Yovel, Herzliya. The renewal and endowment of the Fine Arts Wing is supported by the Edmond J. Safra Foundation. The renewal and endowment of the Jewish Art and Life Wing is supported by Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel through the Mandel Supporting Foundations. The Archaeology Wing, originally built in honor of Samuel Bronfman through the generosity of his children, has been renewed by Charles Bronfman and his children, Stephen and Claudine Bronfman and Ellen Bronfman Hauptman and Andrew Hauptman, in memory of Saidye and Samuel Bronfman. Additional support has been provided by the Harvey M. and Lyn P. Meyerhoff Fund, Inc., Baltimore, and the Wolfson Family Charitable Trust, London.

Campus Project Design Team

The campus renewal project is a joint initiative of the New York-based firm James Carpenter Design Associates, which led the design of the Museum’s new facilities, and the Israeli firm Efrat-Kowalsky Architects, Tel Aviv, which oversaw the renewal of the Museum’s existing buildings. A. Lerman Architects Ltd., Tel Aviv, served as project architect.

The new galleries of the Archaeology Wing were designed by Pentagram Partners, London. The design of both the Fine Arts and Jewish Art and Life Wings was directed by Studio de Lange Design, Tel Aviv. Additional design in the Fine Arts Wing was provided by Oren Sagiv and Halina Hamou.

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. In just 45 years, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of nearly 500,000 objects through an unparalleled legacy of gifts and support from its circle of patrons worldwide. The Museum also organizes and presents 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 in downtown Jerusalem, a venue for exhibitions of contemporary Israeli art.

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