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Major collection of contemporary Israeli photography acquired by the Israel Museum
Assaf Shaham, American Dream (twins), 2011. Inkjet print. 80 x 41 cm. Courtesy of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem.

JERUSALEM.- The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, today announced a major addition to its photography holdings through the acquisition of 55 works of contemporary Israeli photography from the Shalom Shpilman Collection. Works by both emerging and established photographers are represented, including Ilit Azoulay, Micha Bar Am, Dganit Berest, Yossi Breger, Dor Guez, Michal Heiman, Yehudit Sasportas, Assaf Shacham and Rona Yefman, among others. This acquisition has been made possible through a partial gift of Shalom Shpilman, Tel Aviv and through the generous support of Linda and Michael G. Jesselson, New York; Nathalie and Jean Daniel Maman-Cohen, Paris; Marion and Guy Naggar, London; Lauren and Mitchell Presser, New York; and Roselyne C. Swig, San Francisco. And it extends the Museum’s longstanding tradition of collecting photography, further distinguishing it as one of the world’s leading holdings with more than 75,000 works spanning the history of the medium from the time of its invention to the present. The newly acquired works will be on view in May 2016 in the Museum’s annual New in Photography display.

“Given our history as one of the first museums worldwide to collect photography as a curatorial medium, the Israel Museum is very pleased to acquire works that enhance the scope of our holdings and strengthen immeasurably an important chapter in our own history of photography in Israel, and notably in the rich period of photographic invention in Israel since the 1980’s,” said James S. Snyder, Anne and Jerome Fisher Director of the Israel Museum. “We are grateful to Shalom Shpilman for his role in this gift and for his ongoing support of the Museum’s photography collection and program, and to our international friends who have enabled this important acquisition, recognizing the importance of this step in further developing our representation of contemporary photographic history in Israel. As our 50th Anniversary year draws to a close, with its focus on gifts to the collections that fill gaps and strengthen our holdings across all mediums, this could not have been a more meaningful initiative for us”.

Shalom Shpilman, an honorary fellow of the Israel Museum, endowed the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography at the Israel Museum in 2013. The prize is awarded every two years and was most recently awarded to the American practitioner Lisa Oppenheim.

“Contemporary Israeli photography-based artists have been making waves in the international art scene, and many of the works we are now acquiring are part of this recent trend,” said Noam Gal, Noel and Harriette Levine Curator of the Museum's Department of Photography. “We selected these particular works to expand this dimension of our collection and to provide a crucial link to the longer history of Israeli photography, giving us a unique ability to tell this particular story to audiences in Israel and worldwide.”

About the Noel and Harriette Levine Department of Photography at the Israel Museum Since its opening in 1965, the Israel Museum has maintained a focus on the exploration and exhibition of photography, and its comprehensive collection marks the Museum as a leader among encyclopedic museums in developing its holdings in the medium. Over the years, through selected acquisitions, as well as gifts from key donors such as Arnold Newman, Arturo Schwarz, and Noel and Harriette Levine, the department’s collection has grown to comprise over 75,000 works from the earliest days of photography to contemporary times. Areas of expertise include pioneering 19th-century photography from the Middle East, photography of the Dada and Surrealist movements, as well as in-depth representations of such historically significant artists as Richard Avedon, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Andre Kertész, and Man Ray. The department also promotes contemporary Israeli photography through an active program of acquisitions as well as through individual and group exhibitions dedicated to the work of Israeli photographers. In addition, the department awards three photography prizes, the Gérard Lévy Prize for a Young Photographer, the Kavlin Photography Prize for life achievement, and the Shpilman International Prize for Excellence in Photography.

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