Divine edibles, rare drawings, magical music: All at the Israel Museum

There is too much going on there to cover everything in a single article, but here are a few highlights and you can check the website for a complete listing of all that is available this summer.

THE KANDINSKY painting ‘Noisy Surroundings.’ (photo credit: ISRAEL MUSEUM)
THE KANDINSKY painting ‘Noisy Surroundings.’
(photo credit: ISRAEL MUSEUM)
The Israel Museum features a huge variety of exhibits and events for the whole family throughout the summer and it is back at full speed this year.
There is too much going on there to cover everything in a single article, but here are a few highlights and you can check the website for a complete listing of all that is available this summer (https://www.imj.org.il/en).
Children can enter the museum for free on Tuesday afternoon and on Fridays and Saturdays and they will very much enjoy a delightful exhibit, 1001 Characters, Figurines from the Studio of Yaacov Kaufman. Kaufman uses a wire, clothespins, blank pages, discarded scraps of wood and metal and much more – everything but the kitchen sink – and creates figures and faces from these materials, with an inventiveness that defies description. Through his creations, Kaufman engages in a playful dialogue with ancient history and cultures, and images of prehistoric figurines, ritual statues and tribal masks are displayed alongside some of his work. In an instant, this will teach children thousands of years of art history in an enjoyable way that is easy to absorb. If you have a budding artist at home, this exhibit will likely inspire them to use whatever is lying around the house to create their next masterpiece.
There are dozens of activities and events geared for children and many of them are free, including a story hour at the children’s library, a recycling workshop, an animated film for kids about the Dead Sea Scrolls, a treasure hunt for the whole family using a map of the museum and much more.
A number of interesting and unusual exhibitions have just opened or will open soon. Picasso to Kentridge: Modern Masterpieces on Paper, which opens on July 8 and runs until the end of 2021, spotlights the Israel Museum’s impressive collection of 20th-century drawings, which is one of the most important and varied in the world. In addition to the works of Pablo Picasso and William Kentridge, it includes drawings by such masters as Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Marcel Duchamp, Alberto Giacometti, Jasper Johns, Wassily Kandinsky, René Magritte, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and many others.
Because of their fragile nature and susceptibility to fading and discoloration, works on paper can only be exhibited for short periods at a time under carefully controlled lighting conditions, so this exhibition offers a rare and wonderful opportunity to enjoy these masterpieces.
The Divine Food exhibit, which just opened and runs until the end of March 2022, is a look at the portrayal of maize, cacao, and maguey (agave, a sweetener also used to make tequila) in artworks ranging from pre-Columbian to contemporary art. The Israel Museum has a wonderful collection of treasures from the ancient Mesoamerican Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilizations which are presented in this large-scale exhibition, illustrating the domestication of these three crops, which were believed by the Mesoamericans to be divine gifts from the gods. A dazzling, full-sized reconstruction of a Mayan temple dominates the exhibition, in which visitors are invited to discover the world of gods, myths and ancient rites – all of which evolved from the cultivation of these crops. Giant masks, original sculptures and reliefs, and hundreds of objects – including vessels from the palace of Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II are on display.
The exhibition also traces the reimagining of these foods after the European conquest and the introduction of Christianity, through the Mexican Civil War, and up to the present day, as seen in the works of modern and contemporary artists such as Diego Rivera, Jose Clemente Orozco and Flor Garduño.
On August 20 the exhibit Hear O Israel: The Magic of the Shema will be opening. The Hebrew words Shema Yisrael, meaning Hear, O Israel, are part of a cherished prayer and text for the Jewish people, but the Shema is also connected to magic and has been incorporated into amulets. This is the first exhibition to explore the uses of the Shema in magic and it addresses the role of tefillin (phylacteries) and mezuzot – the parchment of prayers rolled into a holder affixed to the doorpost of Jewish homes as a sign of faith – that contain the text of the Shema and are regarded as protecting those who own them. The exhibition will raise thought-provoking questions about the complex relationship between religion and magic.
Music is always part of the life of the museum and from July 19 until the first week of August, the Jerusalem Street Orchestra will play in the galleries in the morning. In addition, there will be a number of outdoor concerts in the evenings in the art garden, which is one of the loveliest and most enjoyable spots in Jerusalem to listen to music after dark, and there is magic in hearing the notes while looking at the sculptures. On July 19, Yoni Rechter, a beloved composer, pianist and singer, will perform old and new favorites, and on the following evening, the Jane Bordeaux Band will host singer/songwriter Keren Peles. Tickets must be purchased for these performances and there is a discount for museum members.
On August 10 actress/artist Raida Adon, whose video work, Strangeness, is on display at the museum, will give a performance.
These are just some of the diverse exhibits and events that the Israel Museum has to offer this summer.