News

Israeli Museum Moves to Protect Art from Escalating Violence

by Kyle Chayka on November 20, 2012

Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s vault (Jewish News One)

Safeguarding from damage against possible explosions from the ongoing conflict in Gaza, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art has removed all of the 100-some works in its exhibition All His Sons: The Brueghel Dynasty and put them in a fortified vault, reports the AP. Jewish News One adds that this is the first time the museum has moved pieces since the Gulf War. Other Israeli art museums are following suit.

This instance of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been escalating since November 8, when Israeli forces killed a Palestinian boy following an incursion across the border into the Gaza Strip. Violence has been drawing closer to major urban centers. A Palestinian rocket hit the outskirts of Jerusalem today. Discussions of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt are ongoing and may take effect this evening, though Israel is currently denying an agreement.

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art might not be in immediate danger, but the curators are taking every precaution, particularly as the works in the Brueghel exhibit are on loan. International museums are wary of lending to institutions in the tumultuous area; since securing loans of actual Brueghel paintings would be too difficult, the museum instead organized a show of the painter’s family and school. The Tel Aviv Museum is one of Israel’s leading art museums and includes works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Rothko, Pollock, and other Modern Masters.

The Ashdod Art Museum, located farther in the south of Israel and closer to the rocket barrages, took down 15 works of Israeli artist Tsibi Geva and likewise stored them in an underground vault. Other museums seem relatively sanguine about the whole thing. The Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem have left things as they are. It’s “business as usual,” said Israel Museum director James Snyder.

What’s happening on the other side of the border isn’t quite so clear. On November 1, the Qalandiya International Biennale, which takes place in the town immediately across from Jerusalem, opened. Put together by seven Palestinian institutions and featuring 50 Palestinian and international artists, the event highlighted cultural life in the area. One imagines any optimism that event may have inspired is now demolished.

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