The Founding of the Museum
The Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, was first founded as the Haaretz Museum in 1958 in the northern part of Tel Aviv, alongside Tell Qasile, where archaeological excavation began ten years earlier. Israel Rokach, Tel Aviv's mayor between 1936 and 1953, opened his talk "On the opening of Haaretz Museum" with the words, "In a few days the first pavilion of Haaretz Museum will be inaugurated in the northern part of Tel Aviv. This pavilion, the first of many, will house the glass collection of Dr. Walter Moses (who died in 1955), who bequeathed his archeological collection evaluated at over a million dollars and his extensive art and archeological library to the Tel Aviv Municipality on condition that it builds a museum which will exhibit his collection."
Israel Rokach had been close to Dr. Walter Moses for many years; the latter appointed him, together with Pinchas Rosen( formally, Dr. Felix Rosenblüth), as trustees of his estate.
Dr. Walter Moses, who immigrated to Palestine from Germany in 1926, was an industrialist who was totally devoted to his glass and antiquities collection, which was housed in his apartment on Bograshov Street in Tel Aviv. Moses expanded his collection by buying items in Israel and abroad, regarding it as the documentation of the history of Eretz Israel culture, which, in addition to the Jews, included the daily lives and artistic work of other peoples - the Phoenicians, Canaanites, Romans, Nabataeans, Christians and Arabs.
Moses regarded the country's multiculturalism as the core of its unique history and as the basis for buildings its culture and future. Israel Rokach describes the collection: " In his spacious apartment on Bograshov Street he virtually began to create his museum... when you enter the apartment you will find near the door several sarcophaguses, statues, and heads of Roman notables... in the last room, around the wall... he set up his glass collection, and it was most beautiful and magnificent."
Despite the fact that he had received numerous offers, Moses chose the city of Tel Aviv for his museum, based on the perception, as Rokach says, "If this city is successful in commerce and industry, it should also become the country's cultural center."
In his material (financial) will Moses sets down guidelines for the board of directors and the museum spaces, while in his spiritual will he writes: "Haaretz Museum is designated to serve as Tel Aviv's museum of archeology and folklore. Special attention should be devoted to the culture of Eretz Israel, the countries of the Middle-East, and the eastern basin of the Mediterranean, and a special department should be designed for glass - from ancient times until the present. It is imperative that the entire museum should be a scientific institution governed by international standards, and it should be primarily devoted to the education of children and adults, by offering exhibits and organized tours, publishing special works and educational books which will make archeology an integral part of our new cultures. "This perception regards the museum as the body that combines archeology - of the past and the folkloristic - with what is evolving and will be created in the future.
This perception is based on the Landesmuseum perception - and the museum of folklore and everyday life in 19th century Europe, which sought to express the ways of life of different populations and different statuses, and the multifaceted culture of regions and peoples. A well-known example is Zurich Landesmuseum, which comprises exhibits of rooms in homes and palaces as well as pubs and bars from the 15th through the 18th centuries, as well as archeological findings related to tribes that lived in Switzerland in the early centuries BCE and AD. Another example is the Arletan Museum of Arles, Provence, which was founded by the writer Marcel Pagnol, who donated the prize money he received for the Nobel Prize in 1904. The museum's treasures include a large part of Pagnol's private collection, for example, assorted costumes, works that present images taken from quotidian life, which express both religious and secular perceptions. In the spirit of this museum the Haaretz Museum was founded.
Between the years 1953 and 1959 Haim Levanon was Tel Aviv's mayor; he promoted culture and education in the city and served as the chairman of the Museum's Curatorium (board of directors). In this capacity he allocated space for buildings and was involved in planning and founding the glass pavilion which was inaugurated in 1959.
Over the years different pavilions were built, and currently house important collections: The Kadman Numismatic Pavilion, (1962), the Ethnography and Folklore Pavilion (1963), the Ceramics Pavilion (1966), the Man and his Work Center (1982), the Nechushtan Pavilion that exhibits the excavations at Timna (1983), The Alexander Pavilion of Postal History and Philately (1998), and the Rothschild Center (2006).
Together, all these realize the vision of Dr. Walter Moses, who regarded the museum as the leading spiritual and cultural center of the city of Tel Aviv and the entire country of Israel.