February 18, 2020

Expanded museum gives boost to Tel Aviv art scene

Tel Aviv’s recently expanded modern art museum, with its dazzling new building no less an attraction than the art showcased inside, has given a home to hundreds of displaced Israeli works and helped boost the city’s cultural scene.

The new wing, designed by Massachusetts architect Preston Scott Cohen, has doubled the size of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art by 19,000 square metres (200,000 square feet) and lured a growing number of art fans through its new, triangular concrete and glass complex since its Nov. 3 unveiling.

“There has never been an exhibit that fully reflected Israeli art, and now there is,” said the museum’s acting director Shuli Kislev. “Tel Aviv received a wonderful gift.”

The reason for the four-year, $50 million building project, she said, was to provide a space for the collection of Israeli art that was growing in the museum’s storage rooms.

Many of the newly displayed pieces include elements of Israeli society, from military conscription to the agricultural communes known as kibbutzim.

And alongside the locals, works by renown German artist Anselm Kieffer, which were inspired by Jewish faith and mysticism, make up a special exhibit for the new wing’s opening.

But perhaps as much a pull as the artwork is the building itself.

Individual, rectangular galleries are leveled around an 87-foot-tall, spiraling atrium known as the “lightfall”, where sunlight is reflected against angled walls from top to bottom. Visitors can see through the atrium to other floors and halls.

The museum is next door to Israel’s opera house and a short walk from both the Tel Aviv cinema and the national theatre—which reopened this month after years of renovation, adding another spark to the country’s cultural hub.

Israeli video artist Shah Marcus said the museum’s addition brings tremendous exposure for him and his peers.

A four-and-a-half minute video of him driving through his hometown of Petal Tikva, waving like a celebrity from a convertible to indifferent pedestrians, is on display in the new wing.

“A lot of curators and art dealers have come to the museum, saw my work here and took it all over the world,” he said. “It is very important for the Israeli art scene.” (Editing by Paul Casciato)