The Museums of Haifa has an ambitious and bold vision for the future. In the meantime it houses 6 different museums scattered across the city. While many major cities have what you call a monumental museum, one that is a city landmark and that concentrates many exhibition spaces under one roof, Haifa adheres to the 2nd tier philosophy of smaller museums dispersed throughout the city.
While the Monumental museum has more prestige and carries more of a Wow factor the 2nd tier approach has a remarkable impact on the city as it allows visitors to take in the entire city as they stroll from museum to museum. There is something organic and fresh in this approach and it also has positive impact on the neighborhoods, many of them residential.
The museums of Haifa include 6 different museums, each different in style and scope: Mane Katz, Hermann Struck, The City Museum, The Haifa Museum of Art, The Tikotin Museum and The National Maritime Museum.
Nissim Tal, the Director General of the Haifa Museums is a man who really loves his job. Tal has been at his job since 1994 and is responsible more than any other person for reinvigorating the Haifa museums and providing long-term sustainability for the continued operations. Before coming to the Haifa Museums he was a senior official at the Israeli Treasurer’s office but he also had studied arts at the Bezalel Arts Academy and got a degree in Education from Columbia University. His passion for the arts and education has brought a unique vision to the museums under his wings and a newly found emphasis on accessing arts and labs to young students through the education system. The municipality of Haifa is also instrumental to this and budgets museum trips and lab time with schools in Haifa and the area.
“When I took over in ’94 there were about 30,000 visitors annually. Last year we had over 200,000 visitors and believe the realistic number of visitors should be around quarter of a million annually.”
Mayor Yona Yahav , a major supporter and lover of the arts has recently stated his desire to see the Haifa Museum of Art relocate to the port area as part of the overall vision to open the port to the public and move the train during this segment underground. His vision is to create a cultural landmark in the city and make it a major player in the country together with Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The possible benefits to the city are obvious and exhilarating and preliminary contact has been made with world-renowned architect Frank Gehry as well as with a wide range of local and International donors. “Once I get the green light to move forward on this, I think we could get the new museum open in no more than 5 years,” says Tal.
Mané-Katz was an important member of the School of Paris (Ecolé de Paris) – a group of young artists, many of them Jews, who arrived in Paris from Eastern and Central Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. They changed the face of art in France between the two world wars, and quickly participated actively in the avant-garde, taking a prominent role in establishing Paris as the capital of the art world, filled with new and extraordinary creative power.
The Mané-Katz Museum, located on Panorama Road overlooking the magnificent view across Haifa Bay, was opened in 1977 in the home of the artist, where he lived and created during the last years of his life. In August 2010 the Museum was integrated in the Haifa Museums complex.
The Struck museum is located in the historic 3-storey building where German-born artist Hermann Struck lived and worked after making Haifa his home. The house was beautifully and accurately renovated a few years ago with the help of the city of Haifa and today is a thriving museum that presents a wide array of contemporary exhibitions.
Hermann Struck (1876-1944) is considered to be one of the most important print artists of Germany and Eretz Israel in the first half of the 20th century. For more than 40 years of his career as a successful and respected artist he created innumerable works on paper, generally in two specific genres – portraits and landscapes.
Since its inauguration in November 2000, the Haifa City Museum displays the city’s past and present cultural heritage. The City Museum strives to generate the historical discourse surrounding the social and political issues, which are inseparable from Haifa’s unique human cultural fabric and its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, and perpetual transformation.
The museum dedicates many of its exhibitions and activities to projects dealing with history, urbanism, multi-nationalism and multiculturalism. The museum received a generous donation from the 16 states of the German federation in celebration of the 50 year anniversary of diplomatic ties between Israel and Germany.
This is the centerpiece of all of the city’s museums. It is the home of contemporary art presenting a carefully-curated cross cut of Israel’s artistic canons.
The Museum of Japanese Art is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of Japanese art works, and is the only one of its kind in the Middle East. The Museum is a municipal foundation, set up in 1959, on the initiative of architect Felix Tikotin (1893-1986) from Holland, and Abba Khoushy (1898-1969), Mayor of Haifa at that time. The Museum aims to allow Israelis to learn and become acquainted with Japanese culture; to promote mutual understanding between Israel and Japan, and between East and West; and to encourage research into the arts and culture of Japan.
The National Maritime Museum is devoted to the maritime history of the Mediterranean basin, the Red Sea and the Nile, and its collection presents 5,000 years of maritime history. The Museum was originally housed on one floor of the Sailors’ Home in Haifa; in 1972, it moved to its current premises at 198 Allenby Road. The building was constructed on land belonging to the Ministry of Defense, and its creation was made possible through the generosity of the Jack and Michael Morrison Foundation, London, the Haifa Municipality and additional donations from Friends of the Museum in Israel and abroad.