Jerusalem is not only a fascinating fusion of diverse religions and traditions, but is also the centre of Israel’s vivid and unique contemporary art scene. Like the city itself, Jerusalem’s artistic life is influenced by various cultural roots, which combine to enrich the city’s cultural scene. While there are few commercial galleries in the city, Jerusalem is rich in art institutions worth exploring.
The Jerusalem Artists’ House is a dynamic and active centre for local and international art, emerging and acclaimed contemporary artists alike. Displaying a wide range of art forms from photography and drawing to installations, the Artists’ House also actively encourages and promotes young artists. The House is an energetic contemporary art hub presenting different solo, group or joint exhibitions around several core themes. Located in a historical building that once accommodated the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Artists’ House offers special events, such as reading nights or jazz concerts to complement its exhibitions.
Israel’s main cultural complex, The Israel Museum is located near the Knesset. It was founded in 1965 as a successor of the Bezalel National Museum, whose collections were transferred to the Museum. In 2010 the Institution went through a thorough reconstruction to enrich visitor experience. Besides its outstanding archeological collection and the world’s oldest biblical manuscript, the Museum presents a rich variety of art works from the likes of Rembrandt, Chagall, or Israelis Abel Pann and Reuven Rubin. During the years, the Museum has adapted to the new cultural waves, and today features the Edmond and Lilly Safra Fine Arts Wing with subdivisions for modern art, Israeli art, European art, contemporary art and photography. Although the Museum’s focal point is to preserve Israeli culture, it welcomes international artists and displays rotating contemporary exhibitions.
Art-Time Israel is the city’s finest venue for pop art lovers. The Gallery, located in Jerusalem as well as Tel Aviv, is led and managed by the distinguished art collector and expert Zion Ezri. A ground-breaking gallery on the Israeli art scene, Art-Time Israel exclusively features nine illustrious Israeli pop-art artists. Their innovative 3D techniques, and striking use of colour make Art-Time Israel a remarkable, attractive and lively venue. Since March 2014 the Gallery has displayed an exceptional exhibition, in which the artist Yuba Mahler makes a revolutionary artistic tribute to Nelson Mandela with colourful, and characteristic pop art-inspired sculptures, all captured in the act of playful boxing.
Beit Avi Chai is a renowned cultural centre in Jerusalem, whose main aim is to encourage a continuous and critical dialogue about Israeli-Jewish society. The four-story building complex endeavours to host a broad spectrum of events that fuse the stories of the Israeli people. It offers the venue for several lectures and discussion forums, but also for concerts and other cultural events, making Beit Avi Chai a focal point for the city’s academics and artists. Contemporary exhibitions, therefore, are an important part of their roster. Beit Avi Chai is home to emerging as well as established local and international artists. With the programmes and practices on display are diverse, one objective is shared by all: to explore and promote Israeli-Jewish culture.
Vision Gallery was founded in 1981 in San Francisco and relocated to Jerusalem in 1998. The Gallery is set in a stylishly modernised 100 year-old building and led by Neil Folberg, who, among other contemporary photographers, is one of the featured artists of the venue. Vision Gallery, which showcasing fine photography art, combines expansive collections of modern and vintage works. The spacious site features eclectic photography from photojournalism to new wave contemporary images. In addition to the acclaimed artists, Vision Gallery actively supports new, emerging talents to showcase their first pieces through their so called First Exposure programme.
‘Make art, show art, be art’ is the core philosophy of Agripas 12. It was created in 2004 by 15 renowned artists, and today remains true to its founding ethos as an independent, cooperative gallery that is maintained on volunteer basis. The gallery features monthly exhibitions presenting rich variety of arts such as ceramics, drawings, paintings and photographs. Since its inception Agripas 12 has displayed over 60 solo and group exhibitions, making the gallery a significant actor in Jerusalem’s contemporary arts scene. Agripas 12 is known for a creative approach to modern art, not only encouraging artists to enlarge their artistic language and to be open towards new art discourses, but also keeping the gallery free from middlemen and commercial objectives. Therefore, the gallery acts as a bridge between art and the public, where artists and art-lovers can directly interact.
As part of the Mishkenot Sha’ananim cultural centre, Dwek Gallery is a non-profit organisation that exhibits Israeli contemporary art in a unique, all-embracing manner. The gallery offers diverse combinations of art mediums (photography, painting, video installation) not only as solo exhibitions but merged with other art forms. Being the visual arm of a Mishkenot Sha’anaim’s complex mission, which is to promote the spirit of ‘dialogue, tolerance and pluralism’, Dwek connects its contemporary exhibitions with the thematic interests of the Centre. The upcoming international writers festival is of great example of their ambitions: ReCover, the accompanying exhibition of the festival, displays the work of Israeli artists who have reinterpreted the book covers of the festival’s writers.
It may be small, but independent, non-profit Barbur Gallery is most definitely mighty. Founded by five friends in the bohemian Nachlaot area, the space serves as a forum for critical debate, and encourages contemporary art discourse through various projects, screenings and workshops. Of course, Barbur also holds contemporary art exhibitions on a monthly basis, showing work by some of Jerusalem’s most exciting emerging artists. The monthly rotating exhibitions are complemented by music evenings consisting of jazz performed by the city’s local musicians.
This museum is a fascinating and pioneering venue on the Israeli modern art panorama. Located in a building from 1931, right on the divide between east and west Jerusalem, the Museum of Seams is a contemporary socio-political art museum. Since its opening in 1999, it has displayed changing exhibitions around such crucial and delicate issues as human rights, slavery, or the current display on loneliness. At the Museum of the Seams the language of art is the vehicle and, occasionally, the explanation for the greatest contemporary social and political issues. The themes are examined by the finest Israeli and international artists of different mediums, and their collaborations are intended to boost cross-cultural dialogue on each matter. This expansive Museum guarantees a thought-provoking visit for all.