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The Tel Aviv Museum of Art Opening

​The Tel Aviv Museum of Art Celebrates November 2nd Opening of its New International Landmark, the Herta and Paul Amir Building.

New building designed by Preston Scott Cohen is a striking contribution to Tel Aviv’s architecture and a major addition to Israel’s principal museum of modern and contemporary art.


Site-specific exhibition by Anselm Kiefer inaugurates special exhibition galleries; permanent collection galleries include installation of the museum’s comprehensive collection of Israeli art.​

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The New Museum

An international city renowned for its vibrant young culture and tradition of modern architecture, and a museum known as the very heart of its nation’s thriving arts community, today opened the doors of a visionary new building that may alter the future of museum architecture and lift its country to new prominence in the world of contemporary art.


The Tel Aviv Museum of Art began a week of festivities—including a concert, an architecture symposium and a gala ceremony in the presence of Israeli President Shimon Peres—leading up to the November 2 public opening of its new Herta and Paul Amir Building. Designed by Preston Scott Cohen, the 195,000-square-foot building adds an unprecedented work of contemporary architecture to the campus of the Museum—Israel’s principal institution of modern and contemporary art—and provides a new international landmark at the center of Israel’s cultural capital.

Ron Huldai, Mayor of the Municipality of Tel Aviv, stated, “We celebrate the opening of the Herta and Paul Amir Building as a confirmation that Tel Aviv is today a global city and will remain one far into the future. Over the past decade, we have invested $250 million in our cultural and historical institutions in support of Tel Aviv’s leading international role. Today, with representatives of the art world gathered here for the inauguration, the Herta and Paul Amir Building stands as the symbol of all we have accomplished and all we aspire to achieve.”

Permanent Collection Galleries

New TLV Museum ​The Tel Aviv Museum of Art holds a comprehensive collection of Israeli art, representing all major trends and artists. A selection of some 250 of these works, dating from 1906 to the present, will be on view at the time of the inauguration of the Amir Building, presented in 18,500 square feet of galleries, in the country’s largest permanent installation of Israeli art.

Also on view in the permanent collection galleries of the Amir Building during the opening period will be an installation of the Museum’s important holdings of Israeli photography of the past twenty years; Utopias of Expressionism and Cure by Expression, a pair of exhibitions selected from the collection of prints and drawings, focusing on the Museum’s notable holdings in German Expressionism; two exhibitions of Israeli design, Library by Chanan DeLange and Circle by Yaakov Kaufman; and the exhibition Five Moments: Trajectories in the Architecture of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, organized by guest curators Jascha Grobman and Ariel Blonder, exploring the historical context of the design of the major structures of the Museum from the original Dizengoff House (1932) to the Amir Building.

“We are proud that the physical and spiritual heart of this wonderful new building is dedicated to the heritage of Israeli art, presented in all its richness and variety,” stated Shuli Kislev, Deputy Director of the Museum. “We also feel deeply moved by the knowledge that these installations are in effect a tribute to the memory of our late Director and Chief Curator, Professor Mordechai Omer, who did so much to build the collection and to serve Israel’s artistic community.”

Shevirat Ha-Kelim: The Breaking of the Vessels

​To inaugurate its new 9,000-square-foot temporary exhibitions gallery in the Amir Building, the Museum will present a site-specific exhibition of new and recent works by Anselm Kiefer, Shevirat Ha-Kelim: The Breaking of the Vessels, organized by Mordechai Omer in close collaboration with the artist. Drawn predominantly from the artist’s own collection, the exhibition presents an extraordinary selection of Kiefer’s monumental paintings, sculptures, woodcuts and installations on themes of Jewish history and mysticism. The exhibition features five new sculptures from the artist’s Women of Antiquity series; five new monumental, mixed-media paintings; three more recent paintings from Kiefer’s own collection, and another two from private collections; three large new woodcuts, each measuring approximately 2 x 3 meters (6.5 x 9.8 feet); a version of the large-scale installation East-West Diwan; and a new installation, Shevirat Ha-Kelim: The Breaking of the Vessels, created by the artist on site.


Among the subjects addressed in the works in Shevirat Ha-Kelim: The Breaking of the Vessels are the stories of Biblical figures such as Cain and Abel, Noah and Samson; the Kabbalistic ideas of the “tree of Sephirot” (or emanations of God) and the shattering of a formerly unified world (shevirat ha-kelim, or the breaking of the vessels); Isaac Abravanel, the 15th-century Biblical scholar and statesman who was forced from Spain in the expulsion of 1492; and Paul Celan, the Romanian-born, German-language Jewish poet who survived the Holocaust and was one of the first in the post-war era to write about these experiences.

The Design of the Herta and Paul Amir Building

​The freestanding concrete-and-glass Herta and Paul Amir Building establishes a dialogue with the existing structures of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and with the renowned modern architecture of Tel Aviv, with its traditions of Mendelsohn, the Bauhaus and the White City​. On the inside, the Amir Building reveals that it is built around a spiraling, top-lit, 87-foot-high atrium known as the Lightfall, whose subtly twisting surfaces curve and veer up and down through the structure. There are five levels to the building—two above grade and three below—which twist from floor to floor to accommodate large, rectangular galleries within the compact, irregular site. The stairs and ramped promenades of the Lightfall serve as the surprising, continually unfolding vertical circulation through these floors, connecting the disparate angles of the galleries and allowing natural light to refract into the deepest recesses of the half-buried building.


“I am incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to work with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on the Amir Building,” Preston Scott Cohen stated.  “The Museum’s program set the challenge of providing several floors of large, neutral, rectangular galleries within a tight, idiosyncratic, triangular site. The solution we proposed was to ‘square the triangle’ by constructing the levels on different axes, which deviate significantly from floor to floor and are unified by the Lightfall. This decision enabled us to combine two seemingly irreconcilable paradigms of the contemporary art museum: the museum of neutral white boxes, which provides optimal, flexible space for the exhibition of art, and the museum of spectacle, which moves visitors and offers a remarkable social experience. In this way, the Amir Building’s synthesis of radical and conventional geometries produces a new type of museum experience, one that is as rooted in the Baroque as it is in the Modern.”

The Amir Building doubles the exhibition space of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, giving it 40,900 square feet of new galleries, as well as 10,000 square feet for its library. Among other facilities, the Amir Building also provides a new 7,000-square-foot auditorium, allowing the institution to expand the busy schedule of film screenings, music performances, readings, lectures and discussion programs that make the Tel Aviv Museum of Art an indispensable center of activity for the city’s artistic and cultural community.


Paul Amir, the Los Angeles-based real-estate developer and philanthropist who with his wife Herta provided the naming gift for the Museum’s new  building, stated, “We feel privileged to have been able to advance the work of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, an institution that is truly at the heart of Israel’s creative community. With this exceptional building by Preston Scott Cohen, and with the ability to showcase the work of Israel’s artists as never before, the Museum now has the potential to step up to a prominent new role on the international scene, to the benefit of everyone.”

Opening Symposium on Architecture and Museums

On November 1, 2011, the auditorium will be the venue for a day-long symposium entitled Architecture and Museums at the Beginning of the 21st Century.  Preston Scott Cohen, Sylvia Lavin, Jeff Kipnis, Jesse Reiser, Nanako Umemoto, Greg Lynn, Inaki Abalos and Ben Van Berkel will discuss the tension between the two prevailing models of museums today: the museum of neutral white boxes, allowing for maximum curatorial freedom, and the museum of architectural identity, conducive to the production of public spectacle. These defining issues of curatorial vs. architectural conceptions, and of art vs. public life, motivated the design of the new Herta and Paul Amir Building, where the galleries are the life and soul of the Museum, even while being organized around the powerful architectural spectacle of the spiraling Lightfall. Among other issues, the symposium will consider to what degree the new building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art might represent a new direction in international museum architecture: an interiorized and socialized space of spectacle, as opposed to the 1990s model of an exterior sculptural object displayed to the city.  ​ 

About the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The campus of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is located in the heart of Tel Aviv, immediately adjacent to the Golda Meir Cultural & Art Center (with the New Israeli Opera and the Cameri Theater) and the Beit Ariela Municipal Library. The previous existing main building, a 175,000-square-foot structure by Dan Eytan and Yitzchak Yashar, opened in 1971 and was expanded with an 11,300-square-foot Sculpture Garden (opened 1996) and the 32,300-square-foot Gabrielle Rich Wing (Dan Eytan, 1999). When the Amir Building opens in November 2011, galleries in the main building that were previously used for Israeli art, photography, video, and design and architecture will be dedicated to the Museum’s extensive program of changing exhibitions. The central Sam and Ayala Zacks Gallery in the main building, previously used for changing exhibitions, will now be dedicated to an installation from the permanent collection of European and American art from the era after World War II.

About Preston Scott Cohen Inc.


Preston Scott Cohen is the founder and principal of Preston Scott Cohen, Inc., a full-service architecture firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Commissions encompass projects of diverse scales and types including houses, educational facilities, cultural institutions and urban designs for private owners, institutions, government agencies and corporations. Notable projects include the Taiyuan Museum of Art in Taiyuan, China; Datong Library, Datong, China; Ordos 20+10 Office Building, Ordos, China; Nanjing Performing Arts Center, Nanjing, China; Goodman House, Pine Plains, NY; Inman House, Cambridge, MA; and Torus House, Old Chatham, NY.


Cohen was named Chair of the Department of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2008 and serves there as the Gerald M. McCue Professor of Architecture. He is the author of Contested Symmetries (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001) and numerous theoretical and historical essays on architecture. His work has been widely published and exhibited and is in numerous collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and the Fogg Museum of Art, Harvard. He lectures regularly in prestigious venues around the world.


Cohen’s work has been the subject of numerous theoretical assessments by renowned critics and historians including Sylvia Lavin, Antoine Picon, Michael Hays, Nikolaus Kuhnert, Terry Riley, Robert Somol, Hashim Sarkis and Rafael Moneo. He was the Frank Gehry International Chair at the University of Toronto (2004) and the Perloff Professor at UCLA (2002). He has held faculty positions at Princeton, RISD, and Ohio State University.


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