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A brief history of humankind from the collections of the Israel Museum on view at Bundeskunsthalle
Model of a house, Arad, early Bronze Age II, 3000–2650 BE © The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Photo: Avraham Hay.


BONN.- This exhibition, inspired by Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, invites the public to a journey exploring some of the crucial moments in the history of humankind through pivotal objects from the Museum's encyclopedic collections. Spanning a timeline of hundreds of thousands of years, the items on view include archaeological objects dating to the dawn of civilization shown side-by-side with cutting-edge works of contemporary art.

The exhibition's narrative, articulated here as three major chapters, revolves on three significant turning points in the evolution of human civilization: the Cognitive Revolution – the advent of language and communication, which enabled Homo sapiens to survive and form complex societies; the Agricultural Revolution – humanity's first steps towards the evolution of settled civilization, laying the foundations for modern society; and the Industrial Revolution – a time of rapid scientific and technological developments that ushered in the contemporary era. Within this framework, the exhibition touches on some critical existential questions, such as: Why did Homo sapiens survive and gain mastery of the world? Why do we need laws? How did the Industrial-Revolution influence our concepts of time and space? And what does the future hold in store for humankind? The scientific revolution set in motion a process that radically improved the living conditions of the human species, but what will the archaeologists of tomorrow find and think about our present?

The objects on view bear vivid testimony to the most important phases in the evolution of humanity, their unique qualities shedding light on universal phenomena. The objects' significance is amplified, emphasized, and reinterpreted by their juxtaposition with contemporary artworks, creating new, thought-provoking connections that invite us to reflect on our past in the hope of gaining a better understanding of our present and our fure.

The Israel Museum is the largest cultural institution in the State of Israel and is ranked among the leading art and archaeology museums in the world. Founded in 1965, the Museum houses encyclopedic collections ranging from prehistory through contemporary art and includes the most extensive holdings of Biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world, among them the Dead Sea Scrolls. Over its first 50 years, the Museum has built a far-ranging collection of more than 500,000 objects through an unparalleled legacy of gifts and support from its circle of patrons worldwide.

The Museum’s 20-acre campus, which underwent a comprehensive renewal in 2010 designed by James Carpenter Design Associates and Efrat Kowalsky Architects, features the Billy Rose Art Garden, the Shrine of the Book, and more than 225,000 square feet of collection, gallery, and temporary exhibition space. The Museum also organizes programming at its off-site locations in Jerusalem at the Rockefeller Archaeological Museum, where it presents archaeological artifacts from the ancient Land of Israel; and at its historic Ticho House, a venue for exhibitions of contemporary Israeli art.





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A brief history of humankind from the collections of the Israel Museum on view at Bundeskunsthalle

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