Arab-Jewish art museum

The Arab Museum of Contemporary Art and Heritage will also serve as a place for dialogue and inter-cultural cooperation

In a country already boasting the honor of having the most museums per capita in the world, the opening of the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art and Heritage (AMOCAH) in the Galilee is nonetheless eliciting great excitement.

The new museum – set to open its doors on December 13 – will showcase “original works of contemporary art alongside items of Palestinian heritage” and host artistic cooperation and collaboration between Jews and Arabs.

“Every museum has its uniqueness. Museums today are not just about safeguarding art; there has to be an agenda to the museum. This museum is an opportunity for Jews and Arabs to meet, for their cultures to meet,” Israeli artist Avital Bar-Shay, one of the founders of AMOCAH, tells ISRAEL21c.

Bar-Shay and Belu-Simion Fainaru, a Romanian artist who lives in Haifa part of the year, came up with the idea for AMOCAH. The Sakhnin municipality and its mayor, Mazin G’Nayem, jumped aboard the project and helped allot the museum’s new home in Sakhnin’s Old City.

The museum has more than 2,000 objects related to Palestinian Arab heritage and some 200 contemporary artworks.

Fainaru and Bar-Shay envisioned the museum after curating and running the Mediterranean Biennale in Sakhnin in 2013. They plan to run future biennales under the auspices of AMOCAH.

The museum is also launching a residency program with artist Johannes Vogel as its first participant. He will come live in Sakhnin, give workshops and create artworks based on his experiences there.

Though this past summer’s Gaza war, Operation Protective Edge, stirred up trouble between the Arab and Jewish populations in Israel and tensions continue to simmer, Fainaru and Bar-Shay decided not to delay the opening of the museum. They wanted to offer something positive to counter the tense atmosphere.

“Through art, [we] will bridge the conflicts with an emphasis on multi-disciplinary arts, self-respect, and a vision of a better future,” reads a press statement announcing the museum’s opening.

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