Recently renovated by the Municipality of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa, Beit Ha’ir sits in the historical Town Hall of Tel-Aviv and forms part of the Bialik Complex – a center of Hebrew and Israeli culture that comprises a pivotal chapter in the history and cultural life of the city. The Bialik Square and its surrounding buildings, including Beit Ha’ir, have been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO and are included in the area of Tel-Aviv designated a “White City” for its unique variant of modern international architecture. The building was restored and preserved by the Tel-Aviv Development Fund under the planning of architect Meira Kowalsky.
Beit Ha’ir (Hebrew for Town Hall) is designed to be an open house for those residents, artists, writers, scholars, tourists, and other guests who want to become better acquainted with Tel Aviv and to partake in its story and spirit; a lively hub of exhibitions and information about the city in all its historical periods, as well as an active civic arena — a place to conduct current public debates and to advance urban processes.
Like the city’s name, Tel Aviv, based on the title of Theordor Herzl’s Zionist novel Altneuland (literally “old-new land”), so too Beit Ha’ir was renovated with the aim of joining the old and the new, reflecting the unique spirit of this city as it moves along an axis of simultaneous preservation and renewal.
The ‘new’ wing of Beit Ha’ir is launched with the exhibit “The Visible City,” curated by Nirit Shalev-Khalifa. The exhibit sums up an extensive and unique project of collection and documentation of photographs and stories presenting events, sites, ways of life, and experiences in the life of the city and its inhabitants during its 100 years of existence. This seminal project, administered by the Centennial Committee, is the product of collaboration between municipal groups and city’s communities and forms part of the centennial celebrations.
Another exhibit in the main gallery space is a virtual exhibit displayed on computer screens that present a singular and extensive database created for Be’it Ha’ir by the company Docudrama and edited by Amir Rotem. This database enables a virtual tour of the city’s “life line”: a chronological timeline containing hundreds of documentaries, both rare and familiar, as well as thousands of photographs and documents presenting landmark events in the early years of Tel-Aviv. Alongside this exhibit, visitors can watch a documentary by veteran filmmakers Anat Zeltser and Modi Bar-On about landmark events in the city’s 100 year history.
In its ‘old’ wing Beit Ha’ir unveils the “Dizengof Room,” meticulously reconstructed as it was when the room functioned as the office of Meir Dizengof, the city’s first mayor. The reconstruction, lead by Dr. Doron Luria, preserves this historical room as a unique time capsule within the building.
Alongside the reconstructed office is a permanent exhibit about Dizengof’s work (curated by Nava Schreiber), which reflects the exceptional reciprocal relationship that existed between the city’s first mayor and its residents.
The reconstructed office of Mayor Meir Dizengoff
A reading room on the top level of the building provides the resources for deepening one’s knowledge of the city, and is designed to serve researchers, artists, students and schoolchildren.
From its renovated roof terrace, Beit Ha’ir, which seeks to create a unique and welcoming environment as a place of current Tel-Aviv culture, also offers a spectacular view of the city’s rooftops. This terrace will host various receptions and cultural events. Below, the building’s courtyard provides an intimate place to relax in the heart of the metropolis. .
Beit Ha’ir will open first for a trial period of several months.
Chief Curator and Director of the Bialik Complex