The Herta and Paul Amir building of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, designed by UK architects Preston Scott Cohen, opened to the public on 2 November 2011.
Located in the middle of the Golda Meir Cultural and Art Centre, the complex that also includes the Israeli Opera and the Cameri Theatre, the programme for the building posed a delicate architectural challenge: to resolve the tension between the tight, idiosyncratic triangular site and the museum’s need for a series of large, neutral rectangular galleries. The elegant solution was to create subtly twisting geometric surfaces (hyperbolic parabolas) that connect the disparate angles between the galleries and the context while refracting natural light into the deep recesses of the half-buried gallery rooms.
Individual, rectangular galleries are organized around the ‘Lightfall’, an 87-foot tall spiralling atrium, and the building itself is composed according to multiple axes that deviate from floor to floor. In essence, the new building is a series of independent plans and steel structural systems stacked on top of each other, connected by geometric episodes of vertical circulation.
The project for the 200,000 sq. ft (18,500 m2) area had an estimated budget of $45,000,000 and includes galleries for Israeli art, architecture and design, drawings and prints, temporary exhibitions, a photography study centre and archives, a multidisciplinary auditorium, seminar and conference rooms, an art library, a restaurant, administrative offices, and loading, unpacking and storage areas.
The Tel Aviv Museum of Art is Israel’s leading museum of modern and contemporary art, and home to one of the world’s largest collections of Israeli art. Since its founding in 1932, the museum has become one of Tel Aviv’s major cultural hubs, displaying a mix of permanent collections and temporary exhibitions. Each year, it welcomes more than 500,000 visitors and offers over 20 Israeli and international art exhibitions. In addition, the museum hosts performances of music and dance, film, and lecture series on philosophy and art.
The museum’s art library and its Documentation Centre for Art in Israel serve over 15,000 students, scholars and curators each year and is considered the most comprehensive reference centre in the Middle East.
Photographs © Amit Geron, courtesy of Preston Scott Cohen architects