The Ilana Goor Museum is a museum situated in historic Jaffa (‘Old Jaffa’) that was established by the artist Ilana Goor in 1995. It houses an unusual collection of artworks, including sculptures, antiques, drawings, paintings, video art, African and Latin American pieces, and a number of design objects. The eclectic collection of objects are a mixture of pieces designed by the artist herself and pieces collected by her on numerous journeys she made around the globe in the last 50 years.
The Museum Collection
The museum houses close to 500 works, including sculptures, small statues, furniture, lighting fixtures, jewelry, and fashion items. Next to Goor’s own works are pieces by prominent Israeli artists such as Lior Shtainer, Sigal Avni, Vered Aharonovitch, Fatma Shanan, and Roi Pajursky. The museum also boasts works by international artists such as Henry Moore, Josef Albers, Diego Giacometti, and Olga Wolniak.
Notable pieces include:
‘Wild Weeds’ by Ilana Goor. Drawing on the Israeli landscapes of her childhood, Goor loves to use millstones, threshing tools, plows, and other agricultural work tools in her art. In this work, a colorful and blooming field of flowers is depicted by means of abandoned cog-wheels of plows and iron flowers that replace the muddy earth.
‘Detail from Morning’ by the renowned Israeli artist, Menashe Kadishman - made of iron and wire. ‘Kokoro’ by Ingo Maurer. This lighting designer’s piece is inspired by Japanese beauty and is constructed of steel, aluminum, and flexible plastic. ‘The Fountain’ by Vered Aaronovitch - this sculptural installation presents naked Poseidon not as a powerful God, but as a defeated, humiliated weakling, in the midst of our existence, with a horrified look on his face, and five little girls tormenting him with a touch of black comedy.
‘Mother and Child’ by Henry Moore - this beautiful sculpture depicts the complex relationship a mother has with her offspring, by portraying a moment where he is on her lap and they are sitting on a rocking chair together. ‘Sheep in the Negev’ by Yitzach Danziger - constructed from bronze, the sheep look like Bedouin tents and their legs are like tent pegs. The artist employed a new perspective whereby he saw a connection between the sheep and the topography and landscape. ‘Self Portrait’ by Dudi Dayan. The artist portrays himself in a distressed emotional state, screaming and with a wide-open mouth. Bright red paint on the blindfold that stretches across his eyes adds to the drama and terror.
Sculptures by Goor
‘Flamingo’. When asked to sculpt permanent pieces for the “Carnival Cruise” fleet of ships in Miami, Goor decided to depict the national bird of Florida – the flamingo. Sculpted in bronze here, the figure is spreading its wings and you imagine that at any moment it may take off in flight. Located in Florida.
‘Family.’ Three statues of figures in actual size depict a family unit: father, mother, and child, and represent an average working family in Israel. Goor designed this for the Ramat Gan Workers Council House, where it stands today.
‘Never Again’. Located at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, this is a statue full of pathos depicting a monumental faceless figure holding in her arms the body of a child, perhaps dead or perhaps injured, as if expecting salvation on the one hand, and on the other acknowledging that he is a victim. The title “Never Again” also indicates the need for the resurrection of the nation in the Land of Israel after the catastrophe of the Holocaust.
History of the Building
The stone building housing the museum, with its cobbled streets outside. was originally erected in 1742, and used as an inn where pilgrims would stop overnight, en route to Jerusalem. Because of its location outside the city walls, not only was the inn a useful shelter but it protected the pilgrims from robbers. By the mid 19th century, the building housed a factory that produced olive oil soap. After the creation of the State of Israel, in 1948, part of the building was used by a group of Libyan Jews as a synagogue.
Ilana Goor initially purchased a part of the building in 1983 and later the remainder of it, hoping to turn it into a space to house her extensive art collection. Her dream was realized in September 1995, when the museum was opened.
Design of the Building
The building is a beautiful stone house, and indicative of the architectural style of the dwellings in the backstreets of Old Jaffa. Inside, it holds many surprises - and in every nook and cranny, you will find recognizable objects as well as art, because as well as being a museum, it is actually the home of Ilana Goor. It’s not unknown to bump into her whilst visiting, which many visitors love.
Furthermore, the roof terraces afford fantastic views of the area, and - of course, the Mediterranean sea, and it is well worth sitting there after your visit, to drink in the atmosphere. Some visitors have likened it to being invited to a friend’s house, the building’s atmosphere is so convivial. Opposite the museum is the Ben-Zion Yemenite Art Workshop, where visitors can watch silver being turned into jewelry.
The Artist Ilana Goor
Ilana Goor was born in Tiberias, Israel in 1936, to a family of prominent doctors, a fair few of whom were also artists. Her grandfather, Yossef Sapir, was co-founder of the Bezalel School of Art in Jerusalem. Ilana herself never studied art in a formal setting which has led to her style being described as ‘uncompromising’.
She began sculpting in the mid-1960s after she had moved to California and hosted her first solo show at the Los Angeles States Museum in 1972. She was also the first woman to exhibit at California’s Museum of Science and Industry, in the same year. Her style combined emotion and strength, styling realistic images and figures, using different material textures.
In the 1980s, she moved to New York City and began designing jewelry, belts, buckles, and other fashion accessories that subsequently became popular in upmarket department stores across the United States, including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Bloomingdales.
In 1986, she launched a collection of iron furniture and accessories within the American marketplace, as limited editions signed by her and two years later, in 1988, she was awarded the Roscoe Award for Best Design in Residential Seating. In 1993, she introduced a furniture collection to the Japanese public, along with a second collection of jewelry, and in 1994 she began working on a new line of furniture, using wood combined with iron and glass.
Additionally, she put together a new set of installations using farming tools (including shredders and old plows) as a ‘back to nature’ statement. Ilana Goor’s pieces have been exhibited around the world and today she is recognized as a cosmopolitan, intuitive, and multifaceted artist. She has won a number of awards and one of her statues can be found in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem. Other pieces of hers can be seen in outdoor settings in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and other Israeli cities. Her work is popular amongst private collectors. Ilana Goor and her husband currently divide their time between their home in Jaffa and New York.
Totem and Taboo, 2019. This exhibit showcased the Israeli artists Nadia Gorenstein and Lior Kesem-Hamama who created an extraordinary world of images, displayed one-of-a-kind dolls, sculptures, illustrations, ceramics, wood carving, and forging – with soft and hard materials combined with various creative techniques.
Jewelry of the Sea, 2017. This was a collaboration with the “Omanit” Na’amat college for Jewelry, exhibiting works of the graduating class of 2017.
“Heaven & Earth” Exhibition, 2016. Two different forces guided this exhibition - one material and the other spiritual. The exhibition looked at the thin line between gravity and weightlessness, between sorrow and relief, between the heavy, earthy sediment and the ephemeral. lacking weight or volume.
Opening Hours: every day of the week but call ahead to be certain. Cultural events - particularly jazz concerts - are operated on a regular basis. Private tours are available upon request - both for individuals and groups. The museum also has a small gift store, where books, statues, Judaica (candlesticks and menorot), and jewelry are available for purchase. Moreover, lighting fixtures, handles, and hangers, bowls and serving dishes, and furniture designed by the artist are all on sale. For more information, please call 03 683-767603.
By bus: from the Dizengoff Centre, take line no. 14 or 18 and alight at Yefet/Louis Pasteur. From there it is a 5 minute (350 meters) walk to the museum. From the Levinsky bus station take line no. 38 or 41 and alight as above. From the Savidor/Terminal 2000 train station, take line no. 10 or 32 and alight as above.
By car: head in the direction of the beach and when you arrive at the Herbert Samuel Promenade, turn south to Jaffa. Continue on Yefet, past the Clock Tower, and turn right onto Louis Pasteur, which becomes Segev Street. The museum is located further along on to the right and parking is available in the Old Jaffa parking lot.