The Mishkan Museum of Art, Ein Harod has a secret - one embedded in the material and immersed in the spiritual. Its roots are planted deep in the foundations of the State of Israel, the genesis of Israel’s first kibbutz, the formulation of the kibbutz movement, and the yishuv – the pre-state Jewish workers who inhabited the land. The secret’s branches rise up out the spirit of the Zionist pioneers, from culture and heritage, from the traditions of our forebears, and from art. A sturdy trunk links the two, nourishing the wonder of the founding and ongoing endeavor of the Mishkan Museum of Art – its sense of mission and responsibility, its excitement and sincere faith in the pronouncement that has remained with us for 85 years: “Our life requires art!”
The Mishkan Museum of Art, established in 1938, is one of Israel’s most important museums. It rests firmly on three main assets. Each one of them, in its own unique, quiet and humble way, is groundbreaking in its field. And they are: its collection, its architectural structure, and its Zionist pioneer establishment story. This is a story of people who dreamt, lived, and continue to live, a belief in art’s power to bring individual prosperity and build a better society.
Much has been written about the Mishkan Museum’s architectural structure – the first dedicated museum building in Israel – and about how it is an innovative architectural gem, based on sunlight which permeates through its roofs and upper openings, generating an unparalleled visit experience which changes with every season and hour. Yet the visit experience is not just a product of that which is visible, and which hangs on its walls, since these walls resonate the life story of Israel’s pioneer generation – the founders of Ein Harod – as well as subsequent generations, which devoted themselves to the Mishkan wholeheartedly, based on a solid world view that this is how a new nation should be built. This is how a state should be created, with a yearning soul. This is what makes the Mishkan Museum of Art unique, and it is one-of-a-kind, peerless. This is its strength and the secret of its charm.
The first displays were selected and brought forth with meticulous hard work, with virtually no financial means, and the foundation was laid for the collection, which currently numbers some 20,000 artworks – one of the world’s largest and most important collections of Jewish and Israeli art. We recently opened the new permanent exhibition from our collections: “Treasures of the Mishkan Museum of Art, Chapter 1”. Alongside it, temporary exhibitions of Israeli artists are frequently presented. Promoting Israeli art is within our souls!
Many people raise an eyebrow at the sight of the Judaica Department and Jewish Ethnology Collection. They ask what Judaica has to do with a kibbutz museum, and how its interest in the plastic arts squares with Jewish applied arts. Well, the answer is that the gathering of Jewish folk art from all Jewish communities, and the bond with the forebears and community traditions, have been among the Mishkan’s cornerstones from its inception. Pluralism and multicultural diversity have always sustained and characterized it.
The Mishkan Museum, Ein Harod is also committed publicly, morally, and ethically to activities for education, enrichment, and contribution to the community. In recent decades, the Mishkan has been the largest art museum in the North, constituting a spiritual and cultural center for all residents of the Mount Gilboa region, young and old, Jewish and Arab, religious and secular.
Alongside the collection and the exhibitions, museum education serves as the base upon which we stand. Over 20,000 students are instructed annually in our Mishkan, they “learn about and experience” it in groundbreaking educational programs, which constitute the pedagogical cutting edge. It is a great honor to function as a home for culture and art of the highest level, here, in Israel’s northern periphery – in a bid to enrich the cultural assets of its youth and to raise the next generation of art lovers.
I invite you to visit the Mishkan and bring with you relatives, students and interested groups. I am certain that it will be an especially uplifting, heartwarming, and enriching visit.
With the exhortation, “Our life requires art!”, Orit Lev-Segev Director