Israel is a region covered with ancient architecture and littered with a diverse and fascinating history, so it’s no surprise that they’re hiding museums in every corner of the country. While we’ve already covered our favorite museums in Tel Aviv, and a few of our favorites outside the White City, like Beit Hatfusot and the Ayalon Institute Museum, we want to take you to 7 museums off the beaten path to enrich your next trip to Israel with these hidden gems.
Ilana Goor Museum
The museum itself is a stunning piece of architecture perched over the city of Yaffo and the sparkling Mediterranean below, and the varied collection inside covers everything from ancient Moroccan artifacts to contemporary international works. From Frank Gehry to Julia Segal, all types of work are represented with wall installations, ceramic works, and more traditional paintings. The work of Goor itself is worth the visit, while the various rooms that offer works of Hebrew literature, collections of African art, and a stunning sculpture garden make this a can’t miss site.
Mazal Dagim. 4, Old Jaffa 68036
Shrine of the Book
This museum is technically a part of the larger Israel Museum in Jerusalem, but it’s easy to skip over if you aren’t looking closely. It houses a collection of ancient texts, from Dead Sea Scrolls to the oldest extant biblical manuscripts, in a stunning work of contemporary architecture built to mimic the lids that protected the scrolls in Qumran for so many years. It also serves as a quiet and sacred space, where no photography is allowed, and transports you back to days of yore with its serene tranquility and air of spirituality. The texts provide a unique look at how the Essenes lived, the origins of Christianity, and Jewish life in the Hellenistic period that is unparalleled.
Derech Ruppin 11 Jerusalem
Located in the artist’s village of Ein Hod, a colony near Haifa and the foothills of the Carmel forest, this curated collection of the work of Marcel Janco takes you back to the birth of the Dada movement. Along with displaying the work of Janco himself, there are also areas dedicated to the work of young artists, a contemporary gallery, a basement level dedicated to video art, and the Dadalab, where visitors are encouraged to experience the playful nature of Dadaism for themselves. Performances are also common, and you’ll leave the museum with a new appreciation for the movement, joy in art, and community.
Janco Dada Museum, Ein Hod D.N Hof Hacarmel 30890
Saba’s little museum
A unique community initiative and collection of obscure objects housed in a series of warehouses in the heart of Jerusalem, the proprietors have taken it upon themselves to collect all the everyday items that build up in our lives and preserve them. The space is exactly how your eccentric uncle’s attic would look if someone had organized the tchotchkes he’s been hoarding over the years, and it is a bizarre delight. Because the focus is on providing a more tangible history of the region, the staff/owners are happy to provide visitors with stories connected to each object, and a hidden gem where they can revel in nostalgia.
Kiryat Sapir, 35 Jerusalem Street, Jerusalem
Hermit House Herzliya
While not technically a museum, this structure is a monument to the passion and creativity of its resident and builder Nissim Kachlon, who constructed the original building in the 70’s and has since had to rebuild due to wrack and ruin from natural forces and the local council. A rebel battling to bring his creative vision to life, Nissim is often walking the grounds and happy to talk to visitors, and explain the many found and recycled objects he’s incorporated into the construction of this real-life sandcastle. The house is located on a beach that is alternately called Apollonia Beach, Al Sidya Beach, and Nof Yam, and right off of the Israel National Trail.
Hermit House, Israel National Trail, Herzliya
Steinhardt Museum of natural History
A staggering collection of natural treasures that showcases a curated selection of objects from a vault of over 5 million specimens, this museum is the foremost natural history museum in the country. Attached to Tel Aviv University, the incredible exhibits and interactive displays uncover a new side of israel and invite visitors to explore the wild side of the Holy Land for themselves. The museum is also the county’s center for biodiversity studies, and actively works to provide visitors with a deep understanding of the science that goes into the exhibits, the collection, and modern data gathering. It is a great visit for science enthusiasts of all ages, and we can’t recommend it enough.
12 Klausner Street, Tel Aviv
Museum on the Seam
This self-described socio-political contemporary art museum and featuring a staggering array of international artists from all walks of life, the museum sits on the seam of East and West Jerusalem that separates the Israeli and Palestinian sections of this ancient city and the confluence of the region’s 3 main religions. Housed in a neoclassical building from the 1930’s, the museum strives to address issues ranging from environmental consciousness to the inevitable solitude that comes with the age of technology. The museum often houses large-scale exhibitions that are as stunning as they are thought-provoking.
4 Heil Handassa St. Jerusalem, Israel