Israel’s first Arab modern art museum opens in Galilee


(JTA) — Israel’s first Arab museum of modern art had its official opening in the Galilee city of Sakhnin.

AMOCA, the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art, opened Wednesday with a ceremony attended by Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Gnaim and Nechama Rivlin, the wife of President Reuven Rivlin.

The museum is a joint project of Sakhnin, a predominantly Arab city, and Jewish-Israeli sculptor Belu Simion Fainaru. Founders have said the museum’s mission is to promote peace and dialogue.

The opening exhibition is called “Hiwar,” which is Arabic for “dialogue.”

“We’re involving artists from the region, and setting it up here will develop art in the area and will put contemporary art within reach of the masses, Arab and Jewish alike,” Fainaru told the French news agency AFP.

“This museum, which blends the work of Jews and Arabs, is a revolutionary museum. It is a museum which urges ‘coming together,’ Nechama Rivlin said at the ceremony, according to the Office of the President. “It is a museum which challenges the artists who live in their own private spaces, and calls on them to meet with other artists, from other places, with different associations.  A new partnership and cooperation will be created here, which does not distinguish between Arab or Jew.”

The museum was scheduled to open last fall but was delayed, first because of the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza and later because of other Arab-Jewish tensions, according to the Times of Israel.

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