Tel Aviv Museum of Art is the largest art museum in Israel. And it presents modern and contemporary art from Israel the world. Let’s begin exploring!
Tel Aviv Museum is located on Sderot Sha’ul HaMelech 27 in Tel Aviv.
Map of the area:
You can reach the museum in different ways. If you choose public transport, you can commute either by bus or by train (Tel Aviv Azrieli train station is about 20 min walk away). You can use this Moovit preset link to set the origin and get the updated directions.
If you decide to drive there, then I should warn you that finding parking can be problematic. There are many parking lots in the area, but they can be full. Moreover, half-day parking will not be cheap. We parked at Golda parking lot (7 Berkovitch street, Tel Aviv), and the parking cost us more than a regular museum ticket.
Sunday – Closed
Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday: 10:00 – 18:00
Tuesday, Thursday: 10:00 – 21:00
Friday 10:00 – 14:00
Adult: 50 NIS
Students, disabled, residents of Tel Aviv: 40 NIS
Child under 18: free
Note: the entrance fee and opening hours were updated in March 2020. In any case, recheck the official site before your visit. Moreover, you can also purchase tickets through it.
When we arrived at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, we had no idea that there will be an overview tour in Eglish (included in the entrance fee). And we did not know about the tour because of its low visibility on the official site. You can find information about upcoming tours and encounters over here. And if there is nothing on the planned date, then at least you can use audio guides.
There are audio guides in Hebrew and English. You can take them for free at the information counter.
The main compound of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art consists of two buildings. They are the main building and the Paul and Herta Amir building.
These buildings are connected with a passage, and there is a sculpture garden in between.
The Main Building
The Museum’s Main Building is part of the Tel Aviv-Yafo Civic Center. This includes additional cultural institutions, such as the Beit Ariella Public Library, the Cameri Theater, and the Performing Arts Center (home of the Israeli Opera). It is also close to other important institutions, such as the Government Compound, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital), and the Court of Law.
Note: unless stated otherwise, all quotes were taken from the official site.
Note: you can click on the map to enlarge it.
Herta and Paul Amir Building
The Herta and Paul Amir Building was inaugurated in 2011. It is, to date, the most recent addition to the Museum’s buildings, and complements the city’s central cultural complex. Its distinctive design, by American architect Prof. Preston Scott Cohen, in collaboration with Israeli project architect Amit Nemlich, drew considerable interest from the moment it was completed.
In the decades since the inauguration of the Main Building, the Museum’s collection has grown substantially — as has the population of art-lovers — while the Museum’s exhibition and operations areas remained virtually unchanged. Prof. Mordechai Omer, director of the Museum from 1995 to 2011, worked diligently to extend it into a lot that was allocated for this purpose by one of the Museum’s former directors, Marc Scheps. In October 2011, following an international architecture competition and an international fundraising effort, the Museum’s new wing — the Herta and Paul Amir Building — was inaugurated. It is a spectacular and groundbreaking example of early 21st-century museum architecture.
Note: you can click on the map to enlarge it.
Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art
At the beginning of the museum plan section, I said that there are two buildings in this compound. And that is because there is also Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art.
Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art is located at Tarsat Boulevard 6, Tel Aviv.
Between Dizengoff House on Rothschild Boulevard (which served as the Museum’s first abode) and its central buildings on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, stands the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, operating as an extension of the Museum. It is part of Tel Aviv’s lively culture hub, which includes two other major cultural institutions: the Habima National Theatre, and the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut), home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
History of Tel Aviv Museum of Art
The Tel Aviv Museum was established in 1932, at the instigation of the city’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff. He envisioned the growth of Tel Aviv into a vibrant modern metropolis with all its cultural institutions, including a museum of art. As part of his vigorous efforts to make this vision a reality, Dizengoff appealed to members of the arts and culture community in the city, enlisted his connections around the world, and ultimately even donated his private residence as the new Museum’s first abode.
In preparation for the opening of the Tel Aviv Museum, Dizengoff’s residence was remodeled to make it a suitable space for art display, leaving only the upper floor of the house for use as his private apartment. Various adjustments were made to transform the two-story residence into a public building: bedrooms were converted into three galleries, and additional sections were added in the back of the building. By the end of the construction, the building consisted of fifteen exhibition spaces and a concert and lecture hall — the very same hall in which the state of Israel would later be declared. At the same time, efforts were made to start establishing an art collection for the new Museum.
The Museum’s opening exhibition comprised works from its collection (including those of Ury Lesser, Mané Katz, Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, and Chana Orloff), and works on loan by 34 local artists (including Yosef Zaritsky, Aharon Avni, David Handler, Anna Ticho, Batia Lichansky, Avraham Melnikov, Avigdor Stematsky, Reuven Rubin, and Sionah Tagger). Besides, the exhibition featured replicas of sculptures by masters like Michelangelo, Verrocchio, Bernini, and others, depicting biblical figures.
You can find the rest of the history at the official site.
I wanted to make a quick mention of the auditorium in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. They hold on concerts there, and if you are interested, you can find the concert timetable here.
Hiroshi Sugimoto Exhibition
We entered the Tel Aviv Museum of Art at Herta and Paul Amir Building. And as I mentioned above, I did not know about the tour. At the information center, they told us about the overview tour. And since we had about an hour, I asked about what galleries we can visit during that time. The woman at the information center suggested several alternatives, and since I love photography, we chose the exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto.
The exhibition took place on the lower floor, not far from the cafeteria.
About Hiroshi Sugimoto
The works of Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. Tokyo, 1948), one of the most important and fascinating artists active today in the field of photography, are presented in a major solo exhibition for the first time in Israel. Specially designed for this gallery space, the exhibition features 34 large-scale, black-and-white photographs from Sugimoto’s central series, dating from the inception of his career to the present: “Theaters,” “Dioramas,” “Portraits,” “Landscapes,” and “Architecture.” In these series, Sugimoto surprises his viewers with an in-depth investigation of the medium of photography and the possibilities embedded in it.
In an age of endless information and digital images that flood our consciousness, Sugimoto suggests a different rhythm and a different understanding of the photographic image. His photographs do not attempt to define the world, but rather to reveal it slowly through patient observation and intense perception. They invite the viewer to observe, study, and enter a metaphoric terrain. Sugimoto photographs what cannot be represented visually: time, memory, dreams, or thoughts. The silence enveloping his photographs is an important element in his oeuvre.
Sugimoto’s images shape a comprehensive mode of seeing, which is not anchored in a specific time or place. They give rise to a suspended experience of space and time and are usually the result of a long exposure. Such is the case, for instance, in the series “Theaters,” where the gleaming, motionless screens were created by opening the shutter of the camera at the beginning of the film and leaving it open until the end of the projection. The series “Dioramas,” which was photographed in museums of natural history, features artificial scenes that document an increasingly extinct world while appearing to portray real scenes captured in nature. In the series “Portraits,” Sugimoto photographed mannequins displayed in Madame Tussaud’s wax museums. The wax mannequins, which eternalize a single frozen and embalmed moment in the life of each figure, seem to come to life in his photographs.
The series “Landscapes,” which was photographed in different places around the world, examines the relations between sky and sea, light and darkness, materiality and immateriality. The precise compositions create a unified horizon line that connects the different photographs. The blurred structures in the series “Architecture” delineate the history of modernist architecture as each building is isolated from its surroundings, detached, and blurred as if in a dream. The soft, unfocused view distills the building to its essence, like an image dissolving in memory.
Despite the variety of subjects explored in his photographs, Sugimoto’s wide-ranging oeuvre is characterized by stylistic and conceptual consistency. His work revolves around questions concerning vision, faith, and memory. By photographing places, objects, and figures that function as cultural symbols, Sugimoto creates a fluctuation between the temporal dimension of photography and the temporal dimension of the photographed images. Sugimoto’s camera does not capture reality, but rather produces it. His works conjure up the past while simultaneously providing a new and contemporary treatment of it, and create a dialogue between fiction and reality, concrete time and spiritual time.
Source: sign in the museum.
Hiroshi Sugimoto’s works are awe-inspiring. And for example, the lions in the photo above look real.
There also was portraits collection. Here is, for example, Henry VIII.
And his six wives.
Since we still had time until the tour, we continued exploring and visiting Herta and Paul Amir Building exhibitions.
Code vs Code Exhibition
When artists chose to impose constraints and limitations upon them, creativity sparks.
One of the exercises that photographers do is using only one prime lens for a specific shot. These artists explored made similar exercises by drawing only with specific shapes.
Have not we all used pages with squares for drawings?
The Latest Exhibition
The latest exhibition is part of the prints and drawing collection.
At this point, we returned to the information desk and joined the guided tour.
Our guide took us to the main building, and we started at the Susan and Anton Roland-Rosenberg Collection.
As our guide explained to us, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art trend is to combine art according to the people who donated them. Thus the exhibitions are named after their donators.
There are many works by Alexander Archipenko, an avant-garde artist, sculptor, and graphic artist.
Archipenko, along with the French-Hungarian sculptor Joseph Csaky, exhibited at the first public manifestations of Cubism in Paris; the Salon des Indépendants and Salon d’Automne, 1910 and 1911, being the first, after Picasso, to employ the Cubist style in three dimensions. Archipenko departed from the neo-classical sculpture of his time, using faceted planes and negative space to create a new way of looking at the human figure, showing several views of the subject simultaneously. He is known for introducing sculptural voids, and for his creative mixing of genres throughout his career: devising ‘sculpto-paintings,’ and later experimenting with materials such as clear acrylic and terra cotta. Inspired by the works of Picasso and Braque, he is also credited for introducing the collage to wider audiences with his Medrano series.
The Mizne-Blumental Collection offers a comprehensive exhibition of early 20th-century Europe, faithfully representing many tendencies and featuring rare works of art. The works on view include Gustav Klimt’s masterpiece, Portrait of Friederike Maria Beer (1916), which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, before its arrival at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art; Child in a Chair (Maia) (1939) by Pablo Picasso, painted at the beginning of World War II; Georges Braque’s work, Still life with a Pipe (1911); Georges Braque’s with Pipe (1911); and Contrast of Forms (1913) by Fernand Léger, from an early series by that title.
In addition to an impressive group of Cubist works, the collection also features prominent Fauvist painters, such as Maurice de Vlaminck and Kees van Dongen; works by Blue Rider artists, such as Alexey von Jawlensky and Wassily Kandinsky; by Surrealist artists, such as Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, René Magritte, and Giorgio de Chirico; and works by Russian Constructivist artists, such as Antoine Pevsner, Mikhail Larionov, and Natalia Goncharova. The collection has been on display in the Museum’s permanent exhibition since 1993. The Mizne-Blumental collection has been on permanent display in the gallery of that name since 1993. In the spring of 2018, sixty of the Mizne-Blumental Collection were donated to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
There are several artworks by Pablo Picasso.
Pablo Ruiz Picasso (25 October 1881 – 8 April 1973) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian airforces during the Spanish Civil War.
Joan Miró i Ferrà (20 April 1893 – 25 December 1983) was a Spanish painter, sculptor, and ceramicist born in Barcelona. A museum dedicated to his work, the Fundació Joan Miró, was established in his native city of Barcelona in 1975, and another, the Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró, was established in his adoptive city of Palma de Mallorca in 1981.
Earning international acclaim, his work has been interpreted as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride. In numerous interviews dating from the 1930s onwards, Miró expressed contempt for conventional painting methods as a way of supporting bourgeois society and declared an “assassination of painting” in favor of upsetting the visual elements of established painting.
Vincent van Gogh
There are even several works by Vincent van Gogh.
Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. In just over a decade, he created about 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings, most of which date from the last two years of his life. They include landscapes, still lifes, portraits, and self-portraits, and are characterized by bold colors and dramatic, impulsive and expressive brushwork that contributed to the foundations of modern art. He was not commercially successful, and his suicide at 37 came after years of mental illness and poverty.
There are masterpieces by other famous artists, but I will not mention all of them. Instead, I will skip towards the end of our guided tour, and we will visit Marc Chagall.
Marc Chagall is one of the beloved artists in Israel. You can find his work in Hadassah University Hospital and even in the Israeli Knesset – The Parliament.
Marc Chagall (born Moïche Zakharovitch Chagalov 6 July 1887 – 28 March 1985) was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin. An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in a wide range of artistic formats, including painting, drawings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic tapestries, and fine art prints.
Art critic Robert Hughes referred to Chagall as “the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century” (though Chagall saw his work as “not the dream of one people but of all humanity”). According to art historian Michael J. Lewis, Chagall was considered to be “the last survivor of the first generation of European modernists.” For decades, he “had also been respected as the world’s pre-eminent Jewish artist.” Using the medium of stained glass, he produced windows for the cathedrals of Reims and Metz, windows for the UN, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Jerusalem Windows in Israel. He also did large-scale paintings, including part of the ceiling of the Paris Opéra.
Our one hour overview tour ended with Camille Pissarro, and we continued to explore by ourselves.
Alice in the Land of Books
My college recommended seeing this collection. And as I saw the sign, we headed there.
Alice in the Land of Books exhibition, presents a collection of rare editions in different languages of Lewis Carrol’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
For example, the book in the photo above was printed in 1921 in London.
It is also interesting to note how illustrations changed over time. For example, in the following photo, you can see a clear difference between the top left book (1943) and the top center one (2009).
Moreover, there is the famous table with all the decorations from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
In Statu Quo
As you probably know, in status quo means in the former or same state. And in this exhibition, they presented several holy shared places.
The term Status Quo refers to the codes that govern holy places shared by different religious groups and communities. In the region known as the Holy Land, an ancient arena of struggle over both territory and worship rights, the Status Quo is an essential regulatory tool. Initiated by the Ottomans in the mid-nineteenth century, later advanced under British and Jordanian rule, and still in use today by Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it requires whoever is in power to maintain a delicate web of negotiations and agreements that allow contested sites to operate in their daily routines.
Although it seems to preserve a state of affairs rooted in long-standing precedents. The Status Quo is dynamic, and the meantime solution is always favoring the potential that lies in possible change. Unlike other regulations, it tends to evade recording, and still, it is successful in walking the thin line between the sought-after and the established.
In Statu Quo: Structures of Negotiation offers a contemporary reading of this unique and ever-challenged mechanism of coexistence and its impact on the local landscape. The exhibition focuses on five major holy sites, using an architectural lens to reveal the spatial and temporal strategies through which places in conflict manage to retain their modus vivendi. It further suggests the critical role of architecture in these complex and highly disputed territories.
Source: sign in the museum.
For example, have you ever visited Church Of The Holy Sepulchre?
When visiting this church, you will not notice that it is actually divided into six different sections (Greek Orthodox, Latin, Armenians, Copts, Lutheran, and common property). You can find additional details at the Church Of The Holy Sepulchre.
We returned to Herta and Paul Amir Building and continued to explore additional exhibits.
Vanguard Modernism and National Modernism Exhibition
We visited several exhibitions that were not to my liking until we reached this one. But since it was getting late, and we were getting tired, I did not read too much and instead got impressions. And I will show several photos so that you will also get impressions.
And with the last exterior view, we will end our exploration of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
How much time a typical visit to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art takes?
We spent four hours at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. And we did not have time to visit Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art. Thus an extensive visit can take an almost full day. But a short one, like the overview tour, can take as little as one hour.
For most people, the visit’s duration will be somewhere in the middle, i.e., several hours. And according to Google: “People typically spend up to 3 hours here”.
Tel Aviv Museum of Art has it all. There are modern art, contemporary art, photography, prints, impressionism, and much more. Thus, on one side, you will probably find something that you love. On the other side, if you love only something specific, like 18th-century masters, you will probably be out of the Museum within one hour.
Overall, I enjoyed our visit. But there were exhibits that I did not understand. Thus before visiting, I would suggest checking out what temporary exhibitions are currently on display and whether there are available tours.
Have you been to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby check out Tel Aviv.
Additional ResourcesHere are several resources that I created to help travelers:
- Israel Trip Planner is the page that will help you to create your perfect travel route.
- National Parks And Nature Reserves page lists and put all national parks on the map. There is also a top list, information about ticket types and campsites.
- If you are looking for things to do, here are the pages for Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Sea Of Galilee, and Makhtesh Ramon.
- Wondering what events are there in Israel? Here is the Events And Festivals By Season guide.