If you are a fan of the sea, sailing, and maritime history – or simply looking for the next museum adventure in Israel – it’s a good idea to head north to Haifa and visit the National Maritime Museum, also known as the Israeli National Maritime Museum.
The museum traces the history of seafaring and the development of shipbuilding, especially in the Middle East, featuring exhibits and a rich display of collections pertaining to maritime mythology, ancient shipbuilding, Roman coins and stamps, pottery, naval battles, and modern seafaring. It is a wonderful place for everyone who grew up on adventure books, movies, and television shows that deal with pirates, sea explorers, and whalers. As you might expect, the National Maritime Museum is a family-friendly place that offers fun activities for the families and kids.
The National Maritime Museum had its origins in 1953 with the private collection of its founder, Aryeh Ben-Eli, who was also the museum’s first director. The museum has gone a long way from a single floor at the Seamen House on Hanamal Street to its expansive new location on 198 Allenby Street, inaugurated in 1972.
What’s at the site?
The museum’s permanent exhibition is arranged in chronological order and divided into several sections, demonstrating the relationship between man and sea over the centuries.
The following permanent exhibitions deal with the following subjects:
- “Mythological Deities and Heroes in Graeco-Roman Sculpture” – It deals with marine mythology.
- “Pirates – Between Truth and Legend”
- “Home Port” – It displays bottled ships and small-scale ship models
- “Hebrew Shipping in the 20th Century”
- “The Athlit Ram” – It displays the Athlit Ram, an ancient ram found in 1980 off the coast near the town of Atlit. A ram is a weapon fitted to several types of ancient ships, designed to be driven to the hull of an enemy ship to puncture, sink, or disable it. The Athlit Ram is one of the most important discoveries in Israel’s maritime history and underwater archaeology.
- “Scientific Instruments” – It displays mathematical instruments designed for measuring angles and distances and applied to topography, astronomy, and navigation.
- “Ancient Shipping”
- “The Age of Maritime Discoveries” – It deals with maritime discoveries during the peak of exploration and colonization (16th to 18th centuries).
- “Shikmona and Its Treasures” – Archaeological finds unearthed from Tel Shikmona, an ancient Phoenician tel (mound) near the coast of Haifa, which is now an important archaeological site.
- “Decorated Pottery from Greece and Southern Italy”
- “SOS!” – It concerns man’s ever-changing relationship with the sea and vulnerability in the face of the dangerous ocean forces. It also demonstrates how human activity has caused the ecological destruction of the marine environment.
In addition to permanent exhibitions, the National Maritime Museum occasionally holds changing and non-permanent exhibitions.
Some of these exhibitions are user-friendly, arousing wonder and curiosity, and brimming with opportunities to play and interact with and learn new things.
Visiting and tours
- For the general public – The National Maritime Museum offers tours for the general public, as well as groups, through the permanent and occasionally changing exhibitions.
- For children – The museum offers activities for families and children on Sundays and holidays. These activities include exhibition guidance, art workshops touching on various themes related to the present exhibitions, such as creating model ships in a bottle, creating clay sculptures, and creating a private pirate island.
The National Maritime Museum is not too far from the other tourist sites and attractions, notably the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum and the Cave of Elijah. If you plan for a week-long Haifa tour, you can include these visits in addition to your visit to the National Maritime Museum.
National Maritime Museum – general information
Derech Allenby 198
(In Hebrew, English, Arabic, and Russian)
Sunday to Wednesday – 10:00 to 16:00
Thursday – 16:00 to 19:00
Friday – 10:00 to 13:00
Saturday – 10:00 to 15:00
(Subject to change without prior notice)
Adult – 35 NIS
Children (5 to 18 years old) – 25 NIS
Police officers – 25 NIS
Soldiers – 25 NIS
Students – 25 NIS
PWD – 25 NIS
Haifa residents (please present your ID card) – 25 NIS
Senior citizens – 17.50 NIS
Family (a couple and two children) – 90 NIS, with 15 NIS per additional child
Great tip: You can also purchase a bundle ticket to visit six museums in Haifa (including National Maritime Museum) for seven days. For more information about the price list, go to this link: https://www.hms.org.il/eng/Price_List.
How to get to National Maritime Museum
From several points in Haifa, take buses 1, 2, 5, 26, 44, and 45.
Enter “National Maritime Museum” on Waze or other navigation apps.
Check out the other top museums and galleries in Haifa.