Knesset exhibit honors Israel’s 70th through museums

70 Years Old: Treasures of Israel’s Museums’ features pieces from museum collections across the country

Yaakov Farkash (Ze'ev), Untitled (photo credit: THE ISRAELI CARTOON MUSEUM)
Yaakov Farkash (Ze'ev), Untitled
Yad Vashem, the Museum of Islamic Art and the Israel Museum are just a few of the museums featured in a Knesset exhibit opening this week.
Taken from local to national museums across the nation, the exhibit tells the story of the country’s history through unique pieces from nearly 50 museums to celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary.
The exhibition at the Knesset, in collaboration with the International Council of Museums and the Association of Museums, showcases the different fields seen in the museums such as history, Judaica, science, archeology, nature and ethnography.
The display is not organized chronologically or thematically, says Dana Arieli, professor of history and the exhibit’s curator, but is “meant to celebrate the fact that the State of Israel has such an archive of visual culture within its museums.”
Arieli and Sharon Soffer, the Knesset curator, worked together with Nava Kessler at the Association of Museums and ICOM Israel to collectively decide which pieces to display in the show.
Arieli said it was important to her to have a combination of both high art, like sculpture and painting, as well as other aspects of culture.
“The process of learning how rich the Israeli museums are and how much we managed to establish here in the past 70 years... was really interesting to me,” she said.
Pieces in the exhibit vary from a Monopoly game produced in the Theresienstadt ghetto in the early 1940s, astronaut Ilan Ramon’s space helmet and a photograph of prime minister David Ben-Gurion, to a video piece by Dana Levy and a stuffed hoopoe, the national bird.
Arieli said there are pieces throughout the exhibit that will touch every Israeli who visits the Knesset in the coming weeks.
Soffer, who helped Arieli put the display together, said it’s hard for her to choose a specific favorite object from the show, but emphasized that the connection between the different objects is what makes the exhibit interesting.
Soffer said the exhibit, a mosaic of different pieces of history and culture, is similar to the Israeli society.
“This is our culture, what characterizes us as what we are,” she said.
Arieli said she hopes the members of the Knesset will take the time to come see the exhibit, and Soffer said a few of them have already seen it.
Knesset Speaker MK Yuli Edelstein said “The message that emerges from the artworks is the same one that the Knesset proclaims all year long: Despite the tensions that threaten to divide us, we are part of a single human tapestry that is alive, growing and full of hope.”
The exhibit will be on display until August 10 at the Knesset.
“This is the official archives of our society,” Arieli said. “This is the most important thing a society needs to establish culture.”