The best museums in Tel Aviv
(This listing is incomplete and will be added to)
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The Israeli Innovation Center at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation
The Shimon Peres Center was formerly the Center for Peace and it organized projects aimed at promoting peace between Arabs and Jews, such as soccer tournaments for Jewish and Arab youth.
Shimon Peres served as assistant to Ben Gurion, whom he much admired. He was prime minister of Israel and then president of Israel. In these roles, he was very much involved in technological advances, including developing a fighter plane for Israel (a project which did not come to fruition) and Israel’s nuclear program, which did. This center now focuses on Israeli technological innovation.
Visitors are taken on a 90-minute guided tour in a highly inter-active museum with displays that showcase the scientific and commercial innovations of this country. In the first room, for example, one meets many successful entrepreneurs almost in the flesh who discuss how they came up with their ideas and the challenges they faced in developing their projects. Other rooms detail the products of successful Israeli companies, the history of innovation in Israel, and a look into the future of innovation in Israel.
The museum is on 132 Kedem St. For Waze directions, enter “Peres” into Waze and click on “Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.” There is a nearby Parking lot on Kedem St, which is a 6-minute walk away. For public transport enter “Peres Center for Peace and Innovation” into Moovit. The bus stop is very close.
Visits have to be pre-arranged through their website. 90-minute tours are offered in English, Hebrew, Arabic and Chinese. Unless you already come with a group, you will be placed in one, but there are no disadvantages to this. Opening hours are Sunday to Thursday 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., and Friday 9 am to 2.00 pm. This is their website:
The Haganah, Irgun and Lechi Museums
There are three museums in Tel Aviv describing the military dimensions of the struggle for the state prior to and during the War of Dependence – the Haganah, Irgun and Lehi Museums. They are all located in Tel Aviv and not far from each other.
The Haganah Museum was established in 1961 during the time of the Labor government and is part of the Independence Trail, the Irgun Museum during the time that the Likud government was in power, and the Lehi Museum was established in 1985 close to the time of the premiership of Yitchak Shamir, who was the leader of Lehi after the death of Abraham Stern. One might assume that there were political implications in the setting up of these museums. The Irgun was a breakaway from the Haganah, and Lehi was a breakaway from the Irgun. Hence, although Lehi was the most extreme and radical of these three para-military organizations, it is ironically the Lehi Museum that provides the clearest synthesis of the views and actions of these three parties, since the other museums give only short mention to the other factions.
There were two military underground movements in Israel during the British Mandate. The forming of Etzel (Irgun Zvai Leumi, National Military Organization or the Irgun (the Organization) which it was called for short came about as a result of the Arab riots of 1929, when many Jews came to the conclusion that the British were never going to adequately restrain Arab attacks and it was up to the Jews of Palestine to take a more active role in their protection as distinct from the more defensive approach of the Haganah. The other underground movement Lehi was formed by Abraham Stern (alias Ya’ir) in the period leading up to the Second World War, when the British issued their White Paper that severely restricted Jewish immigration to 75,000 Jews over 5 years. The Haganah and Irgun realized that it was important now was to support the British in their struggle against the Nazis. Members of Lehi, on the other hand, realized that a Jewish state would never be formed if the British remained in control of Palestine and it was more important to fight the British than the Nazis. This made Stern and his comrades (pejoratively called the Stern Gang) wanted men by the British. Stern’s whereabout was discovered by the British (actually the site of this museum) and he was shot there.
The Lehi or Beit Ya’ir Museum is at 8 Stern Street in the Florentin neighborhood. It is open 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. Sunday to Thursday. It is run by the Museum Department of the Ministry of Defense. Directions: Enter “Lehi Museum” into Waze. There is no designated parking for the museum. For public transport enter “Lehi Museum” into Moovit. The museum is only a few minutes’ walk from the nearest bus stop.
There are two floors of exhibits. The top floor of the museum is where Abraham Stern lived for three weeks before being discovered and shot by the British. A 30-minute movie is shown about the life of Stern. He was initially an academic in the classic Greek and Latin language and literature, and was influential in the Irgun as a commander in arms procurement and illegal immigration. Following his death many Lehi members were arrested, but the organization eventually reestablished itself and the actions and writings of Stern continued to be an inspiration for their organization.
The Main Hall exhibit is on the second floor and is dedicated to the Lehi organization. This includes a Hall of Remembrance that commemorates the Lehi fighters who fell in their underground operations or when they joined the IDF during the War of Independence, and exhibits about the operations of Lehi, including the controversial assassination of Lord Moyne in Egypt.
The Anu Museum of the Jewish People
The ANU Museum of the Jewish people at Beit Hatfusot describes itself as the only museum in the world dedicated to telling the ongoing story of the Jewish people from the Biblical period to the present. It is located on the campus of Tel Aviv University, Klausner Street, in Ramat Aviv, a northern suburb of Tel Aviv. Its new name ANU, which is Hebrew for “we,” is meant to signify inclusion. The museum was formerly known as Beit Hatfutsot, or the Diaspora Museum, but it received a $100 million expansion and reopened in March 2021 under the new name.
The aim of the museum is to strengthen Jewish identity, celebrate Jewish pluralism and diversity, provide Jews a sense of their legacy, and engender a sense of belonging. The aim of the museum is to strengthen Jewish identity, celebrate Jewish pluralism and diversity, provide Jews a sense of their legacy and engender a sense of belonging. Technologically the museum is quite advanced with 54 movies and 23 interactive displays. There are three floors of exhibitions. All explanations are in Hebrew and English.
The first floor is about Jewish foundations. It celebrates the fact that Judaism has a universal message and discusses in varying degrees of detail the Covenant, Jewish Calendar, Shabbat, and the influence of the Bible on world culture. The Synagogue Hall displays its renowned synagogue models from around the world. The second floor is about the journeys and migrations of the Jewish people, up to and including the State of Israel. Interestingly, the Holocaust has only a small room. This can be justified in that the holocaust is covered in other museums and this is a museum about Jewish life and not Jewish death. The third floor or Mosaic is about modern Jewish identity and culture and includes exhibits of theater, dance, cinema, music, and luminaries.
It is worth noting that this museum is philosophically loaded. Multiculturalism is a means of Jewish inclusion rather than a stage of assimilation and opting out. Judaism is on the first floor and is separate from the Journey and the Jewish Mosaic. The continuing change of Jewish life is more worthy of exhibition that its consistency. This does not detract, though, from the value of this museum.
There are three floors of exhibitions. The first floor is about Jewish foundations. It celebrates the fact that Judaism has a universal message and discusses in varying degrees of detail the Covenant, Jewish Calendar, Shabbat, and the influence of the Bible on world culture. Synagogue Hall displays its renowned synagogue models from around the world. The second floor is about The Journey or migrations of the Jewish people, up to and including the State of Israel. Interestingly, the Holocaust has only a small room. This can be justified in that the holocaust is covered in other museums and this is a museum about Jewish life and not Jewish death. The third floor or Mosaic is about modern Jewish identity and culture and includes such exhibits of theater, dance, cinema, music and luminaries. All explanations are in Hebrew and English.
It is worth appreciating that this museum is philosophically loaded. Multiculturalism is a means of Jewish inclusion rather than a stage of assimilation and opting out. Judaism can be left on the first floor and is separate from the Journey and the Jewish Mosaic. The continuing change of Jewish life is more worthy of exhibition that its consistency. This is one statement made by the museum: “For generations, the Bible has been a source of inspiration for philosophers and leaders. Although the Biblical text depicts a social order suited to the times, many believe that the principles and attitudes underling it - and in particular its perceptions of righteousness and morality - are still valid. Even in our times, the Bible has an unmistakable impact on social orientations and individual worldviews.”
The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday, Thursday 10.00 a.m. to 10.00 p.m., Friday 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and Saturday 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. For directions enter “ANU” in Waze and click on “ANU Museum of the Jewish People”. There is paid parking for museums opposite gate #2. On Saturdays and holidays, parking is only allowed on Klauzner St. outside the campus. Entrance is through Matatia Gate 2. There are close-by buses, enter “ANU Museum of the Jewish People into Moovit. Regular admission is 52 NIS and for seniors 26 NIS. Olim, college students and persons with disabilities 42 NIS.
There are 75-minute guided tours in English at 1.00 pm on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday that focus on one floor and are provided at no additional cost. This needs to be booked in advance through their website. Admission is free on Friday, but should be booked in advance. Tourists and non-Israeli citizens must present a passport or proof of ID to enter the museum. Audio guides are available in a number of languages with 6 themes at no additional charge. There is a cafeteria and kiosks on the ground floor. Their telephone number is 03 500 8080. This is their website.
The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History
This museum is in north Tel Aviv and also on the campus of the Tel Aviv University. There are literally thousands of exhibits on display at any one time. The exhibits are arranged according to topic. It is appreciated by the museum that it is impossible to view all the exhibits at one visit and that one has to be selective. You can go on a tour to appreciate the range displayed by the museum, you can look at their website and choose displays that are either recommended, of interest to you, or both. You can also speak to the person at the desk for recommendations.
The whole third floor for example is on “What makes us human” and is about the origin of humans and their anatomical and physiological evolution. There are also exhibits on studying past climate to prepare for the future. All the videos have subtitles in Hebrew, English and Arabic.
The museum is open on Monday and Wednesday 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 10.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m., Friday and holidays 10.00 to 2.00 pm, and it is closed on Sunday. Its address is 12 Klausner Street. Enter “Steinhardt Museum” into Waze. For public transport enter “Steinhardt” into Moovit and click on “The Steinhardt Museum of Natural History”. There are many bus routes. For those coming by rail, the Tel Aviv University stop is a 1.2 Km/15-minute walk from the museum. There is a large parking lot under the museum. Their phone number is 03-640 7070 and the ticket office 073 380 2000. Tickets should be booked through their website. This is their website.
The web of existence for the acacia tree