The Hecht Museum in Haifa is a gem often overlooked by visitors to Israel. It showcases an impressive collection of archaeological finds and artwork. The museum is named after the founder, Dr. Reuben Hecht (1909-1993) who established the Dagon Granaries near Haifa. The museum displays archaeological artifacts in chronological order. This is a great way to get an overall understanding of the country’s ancient history, and how it progressed. The art section of the museum is equally impressive, with works by some of the world’s greatest artists such as Van Gogh and Pissarro.
Archaeological Exhibitions at the Hecht Museum
The museum’s permanent exhibition Archaeology of Eretz-Israel in Chronological Sequence includes archaeological artifacts found in Israel from the Chalcolithic Period to the Mishnaic, Talmudic Era (Roman-Byzantine Era).
There is also a permanent exhibition focused on the ancient maritime exploits of the Phoenicians who settled on Israel’s north coast in the Biblical Era. Pieces on display are from maritime excavations. The exhibit is set up to look like a Phoenician archaeological site, with seashells on the floor and display cabinets mounted on stones found in excavations.
The Ancient Crafts and Industries exhibition covers woodwork, glass-making, metalwork, masonry, the art of medicine, and calligraphy. One of the museum highlights is the Ma’agan Michael Ancient Ship.
Visitors can see the remains of a 2,400-year-old ship’s hull, anchor, and even the cargo. Several themed exhibits cover ancient jewelry, West Semitic seals, motifs of the seven spices of Israel, pieces from Temple Mount excavations, ancient games and toys, oil lamps, Etruscan culture, Jewish coins, weights, plus excavated artifacts from Cyprus and Egypt.
Art Exhibitions at the Hecht Museum
In the art section of the museum, there are works from a range of genres and historic periods. The sections cover French Painting 1830-1930; Jewish Art from Mid-19th-Century to Early 20th-Century and the Ghez Collection of work by Jewish artists who died in the Holocaust. Among the most impressive works on display are pieces by Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, Pissarro, and Modigliani.
Works by Jewish artists include those by Russian expressionist painter Chaim Soutine and German etching artist Hermann Struck. Struck lived a fascinating life, he painted portraits of figures such as Oscar Wilde, Einstein, and Freud. While you are in Haifa, you can visit his former home which is now a museum.
The Road of the Millennia
On the grounds of the Hecht Museum, is a path that leads visitors through natural woods. In this natural setting are reconstructed buildings brought from across Israel representing different historic periods. Dr. Hecht had the initial idea to collect structures that were likely to be destroyed and bring them to the museum grounds to be preserved.
Among the reconstructed architectural pieces are Bronze Age dwellings and a burial site from the Negev Highlands, Byzantine oil presses from Hurbat Castra, Iron Age granaries from an Israelite fortress in the Negev, and a Chalcolithic Period tomb from the southern coastal plain.