On December 12 2006, at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Director Said Abu Shakra announced the next phase of artistic growth in Umm el-Fahem. In doing so, he announced the creation of the first Arab museum in Israel dedicated to the visual arts, the Umm el-Fahem Museum of Contemporary Art. This space will be a permanent home for modern works in addition to traditional Arab arts, and will show how the creative heritage of the region inspires current production. Through the works of this museum, past and present will converge.The Umm el-Fahem Art Gallery, with all of its activities, has outgrown its current space. The museum is an organic growth of the Gallery, presenting innovative art and programming in the Triangle. In addition, the scholarly work of the Gallery necessitates a permanent home. The museum will accommodate all of the current activities of the Gallery, while providing the space for a wider audience. The museum grounds will include a library, an auditorium, classrooms, galleries for the permanent collection, and a café.
This museum will be the first contemporary art museum in the Arab sector in Israel. The museum will present groundbreaking art that reflects the richness and complexity of the region, and as such will serve as a mirror of the area’s culture. The museum will be a repository for the cultural legacy of Arab artists in Israel. An essential part of the museum will be a photographic and oral history archive that will document the Wadi Ara area. The archive will serve as a conduit that will guide researchers through the area’s history, and will be available as a resource to scholars of Israeli art, Arab art, and regional history.
The Gallery at Umm el-Fahem has already begun acquiring a permanent collection for the future museum. Through donations and gifts, the Gallery has acquired the works of artists such as Fatma Abu Roumi, Assam Abu Shakra, Tyseer Barakat, Asaf Evron, Khalid Hourani, Menashe Kadishman, and Suleiman Mansour. As part of the heritage collection, the Gallery will display an archive of traditional Palestinian embroidery.
The current infrastructure for museums in the Arab sector in Israel is limited, and therefore the future museum will be committed to increasing and improving the educational opportunities available to Arab art professionals. The future museum will undertake training initiatives for Arab Israeli students, including curatorial and administrative internships. The future museum will continue to provide internship and professional development opportunities for the Arab sector in Israel.