David Ben Ari Museum for Contemporary Art

Sholem Asch HouseRybak House
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MoBY-Museums of Bat Yam is a complex of three museums – David Ben Ari Museum of Contemporary Art, Ryback House, and Sholem Asch’s Home. The complex is located in a park in the heart of the Ramat Yosef neighborhood. The park was planned by Israel Prize recipients, landscape architects Lippa Yahalom and Dan Tzur, and the museum and surrounding neighborhood were planned by architect Yitzhak Perlstein.

The museum’s distinctive round building was built in 1961 and is greatly inspired by the Brutalist architectural style associated with the works of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Originally, the museum was built as a pillared pavilion in the heart of the park, and the public was invited to take shelter under the building and visit the exhibitions as part of their daily life in the neighborhood.

The museum is located at the highest point of the city, next to an active water tower. When the community elders built the museum, the logic they followed dictated that culture and art are no less essential to the city than running water. Over the years, the water tower has served as artist studios and storage space for the museum art collection. Over the years, the museum served as an exhibition space for the fine arts with a special emphasis on modern Israeli painting and sculpture. This emphasis led to the dominant presence of Bat Yam based artists such as sculptor Jacob Epstein and painter Chaim Kiewe (who even acted as the director of the museum during the 1960s).

Since 2007, the museum focuses on displaying temporary exhibitions of contemporary art. Alongside these exhibitions, which are popular among various audiences, the museum has dedicated spaces for a permanent exhibition displaying the museum’s collection and focusing on the historic Bat Yam scene. In addition to the exhibition program, and in line with the original intention that the museum serve a general public function, the museum also boasts a variety of different educational programs.

The current exhibition program invites the audience to engage in a critical discourse that examines the limits of artistic production and its impact on social, cultural, economic, and political conceptions. Through a discussion about fundamental concepts in contemporary art practices, the museum presents the opportunity to ask: what can art do, be, and enable today? The curatorial approach focuses on presenting artists who produce bodies of work that attempt to answer these questions by pushing the limits of artistic mediums.

David Ben Ari. Photograph from the Encyclopedia of the Founders and Builders of Israel (1959)

The David Ben Ari Museum of Contemporary Art, 1961. Photograph from MoBY's archive