Places to See: The Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Culture vultures, rejoice: The three buildings of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art offer enough paintings, drawings, sculpture and photography to make any art lover swoon.

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Preston Scott Cohen’s Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.
Preston Scott Cohen’s Herta and Paul Amir Building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Credit: Daniel Tchetchik
Anat Rosenberg
Anat Rosenberg

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art has come a long way since the city’s first mayor, Meir Dizengoff, founded it in 1932 in his home on Rothschild Boulevard. The once fledgling museum that possessed only a few dozen artworks has grown into one of Israel’s leading attractions for culture vultures.

The museum comprises three buildings – the main one on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, which opened in 1971 and is an architectural throwback to Israeli days of yore; the sleek new Herta and Paul Amir building, designed by American architect Preston Scott Cohen and inaugurated in the fall of 2011, doubling the museum’s exhibition space and injecting it with a hearty dose of innovation; and the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, built in 1959, and located in the city center near Habima Theater.

The museum takes advantage of all that square footage to showcase permanent and changing exhibitions of work by Israeli and international artists. The art on display covers various eras and art movements and includes every medium imaginable – painting, sculpture, prints and drawings, photography, video, installations, fashion, architecture and design.

Artists, art patrons and benefactors donated a large part of the museum’s permanent collection, which boasts works by some of the biggest names in art history: Van Gogh, Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Rothko, and Pollock are all here, along with acclaimed Israeli artists Raffi Lavie, Moshe Gershuni, Adi Nes and Sigalit Landau, to name just a few.

As far as the changing exhibits go, they are equally diverse. On a recent visit, there were temporary shows devoted to photographer Roger Ballen’s stark black-and-white shots of characters from Johannesburg’s fringes; personal items from the fashion closet of Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga; prints by Edvard Munch of “The Scream” fame; and a retrospective of Israeli artist Pinchas Cohen Gan’s work from 1970 onward.

The museum also offers guided tours (mainly in Hebrew) and other activities for adults and children, including concerts, classes, lectures, workshops, and more. There is also an arthouse cinema on the premises, which screens indie and foreign films and hosts film festivals on occasion.

Opening hours: Mon., Wed. 10 A.M.–4 P.M.; Tues., Thurs. 10 A.M.– 10 P.M.; Fri. 10 A.M. –2 P.M.; Sat. 10 A.M.–4 P.M.; closed Sunday.

27 Shaul Hamelech Blvd.; Tel.: 03-607-7020

Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art
6 Tarsat Blvd.; Tel.: 03-528-7196

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