TIKOTIN MUSEUM OF JAPANESE ART, Haifa
Nissim Tal, Director General, Haifa Museums
Dr. Ilana Singer Blaine, Chief Curator
The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, located on the crest of Mount Carmel, is dedicated exclusively to the preservation and exhibition of Japanese art works, and is the only one of its kind in the Middle East. The Museum’s collection is one of the largest and most important outside Japan, comprised of more than 7,000 items of which some 4,000 were originally acquired by the museum’s founder, Felix Tikotin.
The collection includes paintings, prints, drawings, painted screens, textiles, antique illustrated texts, ceramics, miniature carvings (netsuke), lacquer and metal work, antique swords and functional art works, mainly from the 17th to 19th centuries, as well as a collection of modern Japanese art. Many artworks in the collection are extremely rare. Exhibitions at the Museum are composed of a variety of elements of Japanese culture, displaying a broad cross-section of art, both traditional and modern, and emphasizing the aesthetic values unique to Japanese art.
The Museum was founded by Felix Tikotin, an architect and internationally renowned collector and dealer in Japanese works of art. For more than forty years he amassed his valuable and rare collection and organized exhibitions of Japanese art in many museums. During World War II, because he was Jewish, Felix Tikotin fled from the Nazis. He hid his collection in Holland to prevent it from falling into their hands. After the war, in 1956, he visited Israel with the intention of donating his personal collection to one of Israel’s museums. Upon meeting the then Mayor of Haifa, Abba Khoushy, Felix Tikotin changed his mind and decided to construct a museum specifically designed to house his collection.
In February 1959 plans were approved for a Japanese pavilion, and construction began in accordance with the ideas and plans of Felix Tikotin, supervised by the architect M. Lev. The exhibition hall was designed in the Japanese spirit with sliding doors of paper leading to a garden.
On Wednesday, May 25th, 1960, the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art was opened to the public with an exhibition of the founder’s collection on display. Felix Tikotin’s dream was that the museum should be a centre for studying Japanese arts and culture, broadening Israelis’ knowledge of Japan.
In the educational branch of the Museum, activities based on the exhibitions are conducted for schoolchildren and those of kindergarten age, for teachers, and for other groups. Courses are given about the Japanese language, calligraphy and ink drawing, ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) and cooking, and there are special activities for children. The Museum also presents events concerning the arts and culture of Japan. These include lectures, films, the tea ceremony, festivals and special celebrations, many of which are held in the Raphael Angel Auditorium.
In 2000, the Museum received the prestigious Japan Foundation Special Award, which is conferred annually on institutions that make significant contributions to cultural exchanges with Japan. In 2003, the committee of the Israeli Ministry of Education and Culture for evaluating the quality of exhibitions and collections ranked the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art second only to the Israel Museum in order of merit. In 2009, the Japanese Foreign Minister commended the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art for its exhibitions and for reinforcing the ties between Israel and Japan.