22 May 2015

Hobnobbing in the Holy Land: The Ilana Goor Museum in Old Jaffa

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am devoting a whole entry to the Ilana Goor Museum. This is one behemoth of an eclectic art museum, and it just blew my mind away when we visited it. It was founded by Israeli artist Ilana Goor, back in 1995. She used to own just part of the building back then, which was originally built in 1742. But later on, she bought the entire building so that she can have some space to exhibit her own artwork, as well as artworks created by other artists which she collected. This place is massive, and definitely feels like an artistic jungle.

Let me start by showing you the dining room. It is gross and interesting at the same time.

This piece depicts some sort of grotesque feast. There are different large insects crawling all over the place. There are bones of weird disgusting animals. There are just so many things that are yuck! But at the same time, they are interesting to look at.

The kitchen, shown by my pictures above, is also an interesting place. Located at the top part of the building, it provides a grandiose view of the sea. The holes you see on the ceiling of the kitchen is an ancient contraption designed to cool the house down. I don't really know how it works.

The museum also includes a library and some other rooms. There are indeed artwork in here, but they are less loud and much more subdued, so to speak. I suppose this is the livable part of the house. Let me show you the ones that are not.

There are plenty of animals and pianos in the house. The above photos show you a sampling of these. Ilana seems to like animals incorporated in her art. Then again, I am not really sure if all of these are her creations or some art from other artists that are just part of her collection.

So I have mixed feelings about this place. I loved it, when I was there. I felt like I was a little kid exploring a giant treasure chest of art. I was exploring every room, looking at every weird and bizarre object, thinking that this must be someone's idea of a bad dream, and I am exploring that bad dream. But the downside of this is that every piece of art I saw blurred with each other. I suppose I am still a fan of the traditional way of presenting artwork, which is in a relatively sterile location, so that a piece of art can be observed and appreciated on its own, not in conjunction with a thousand other bizarre pieces. In this way, I felt like I learned more about the state of Ilana Goor's brain rather than the artworks themselves.


  1. Never heard of it! I can't say I like it, based on your pictures, but I agree--great items and art to explore but it doesn't appeal to me from an aesthetic perspective.

    1. Zhu,

      Definitely. Sometimes it is interesting to see other perspectives, even though at the end of the day the perspective isn't something we like.