Architect’s Statement

At a festive event held at the Tel Aviv museum on Sunday, November 2, 2008, the names of the winners of the open competition for the planning of the museum at Umm-El-Fahem were disclosed.

The winners are architects Amnon Bar-Or, Lior Tsionov and Lior Vitkon  in. They won thanks to their excellent planning and presentation of their proposed design of the museum, a design that stood out from the first stage of the competition.

Remarks from the judges regarding the winning design:

“…it has all of the elements needed to fall in love with it. The main walkway that passes through it is a visible & impressive educational symbol that sends positive messages, valuable, the lighting from above, the light, moving. The size, its exterior shape, looks good from afar. It is well located in its environs, the interior is well designed, exterior and interior are harmonious, the pedestrian street crosses through the building. The building’s design is simply unique and better fits Umm-El-Fahem (Judges Chairperson, Architect Yossi Farhi)


Statements of the architects, planners of the museum

At the end of a high profile competition for the construction of the Museum of Modern Art in Umm el-Fahem, with a large number of participants, sponsored by the Israeli United Architects Association, and conducted under supervision of High Court justice Abd El-Rahman Zuaby, it was our proposal that was accepted.  The Museum of Umm el-Fahem is not just another museum in a large city. It constitutes a precedence for cultural activity of historical dimensions.  In the Fifties of the last century, when the young state of Israel decided to build the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, architects were called on to compete for the design. It is no coincidence for Mansfeld-Gat to have won the competition. The museum design was inspired to a large degree by the classic Arab-Palestinian village, that is constructed in individual units – white units “glued” to the ground, clinging to it. The wish to belong, to become part of the place, through attachment to the soil, and to prove ownership of the land that is meant to present, more than any other place, the cultural highlights of Israel and the world. The need of a state, at the dawn of its existence, beginning to form its narrative for the hundreds of thousands of its immigrants and local residents. A museum is the showcase of the culture it represents. In addition, it is loaded with political and cultural messages. We did not wish to design just another “Arab village”, as a mark of the local culture. We looked beyond: The people of Umm el-Fahem have no need to make an extra effort to hold on to the soil. They don’t need to prove that they own the land, which has been theirs for many generations. We regarded the design of the museum as an opportunity to rise up from the ground, and look at the surroundings from a different, a higher, more universal viewpoint. The museum is a dwelling of the Muses, and they, after all, reach across borders and nations. We regard the museum as a place that will present the local culture to its guests, and, at the same time, the cultures of the world to the local residents. An active museum can become a powerful cultural generator, a place, where local creativity meets creations from all over the world. It is this dialogue that will bring forth innovative works of art. The museum is meant to serve as a cultural icon, generating feelings of identity with the place as well as functioning as an opening for the acceptance of the other. For us, the museum is an integral part of the city, and it is meant to function as a cultural center for the residents of Umm el-Fahem and its surroundings. The museum will contain elements of the past: Collections of local culture and folklore will be exhibited here. In addition, it will house the first Arab-Israeli archive. In modern society, archives serve as a tool for dealing with, and studying, the past. It collects the multitude of testimonies describing the culture that existed here until 1948, the break that it experienced after 1948, and the cultural development since. The museum will further present current cultural-artistic activities. In the future, the Museum of Umm el-Fahem will be able to combine the treasures of the past with the artwork of the presence to turn them into materials for new creations that will measure up to the artistic world in Israel and worldwide.

The opportunity of dealing with the design and construction of the Umm el-Fahem Museum of Art is unique in many aspects. For us, Jewish-Israeli architects, this is an opportunity to plan together with Arab Israelis. This compels us to learn about the Arab-Palestinian culture, the language, the past, the presence, and the future. We wish to thank all those, who helped to make this dream come true, and who allowed us to be part of the important tasks that yet lie before us.

Architects Amnon Bar Or, Lior Tsionov, and Lior Vitkon

For the Principles of the chosen plan please read here: Umm el-Fahem Museum of Contemprary Art – Building Principles