Despite its chief reputation as an industrial port city, Haifa is also known as northern Israel’s cultural hub. So, it not a big surprise that you will find several museums in Haifa. They range from the most popular to the hidden gems. Haifa boasts museums and galleries of great variety. Whether it’s an art, a science and technology, or an archaeology museum, Haifa has them. There’s even a Japanese museum and a museum on the rails, too!
1) Haifa Museum of Art
The Haifa Museum of Art is the third-largest museum in Israel. Housed in a 1930s building that once served as an all-girls school, the museum opened in 1951 with an exhibition of Marc Chagall’s work. Since then, the Haifa Museum of Art has been of the country’s leading museums.
Consisting of three floors, the Haifa Museum of Art permanently displays a collection of contemporary art by Israeli artists, such as Menachem Shemi, Michael Gross, Pinhas Cohen Gan, and many others. It also displays some works by international artists such as Diego Rivera, Andre Masson, and Chana Orloff. It boasts ten galleries featuring temporary exhibitions and video installations.
2) Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space Museum (Madatech)
The Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space Museum also known as Madatech, is Israel’s leading museum of its kind, receiving about 300,000 visitors every year. The museum was established in 1983 in a historic building originally intended to be the first campus of the Technion.
Visitors of all ages get to enjoy the hands-on experience and the interactive exhibits. They include the summer exhibition entitled “101 Inventions That Changed the World”, which features a 32-minute film presenting the world’s most significant inventions and being displayed on 22 giant screens and several interactive touch screens. Among the museum’s permanent exhibitions include “Green Energy,” “Acoustics Hall,” “Puzzle Games,” “A Matter of Chemistry,” “Leonardo da Vinci,” and “Fly High.”
3) Hecht Museum
The Hecht Museum is located on the University of Haifa campus. It features a curious and fascinating collection of ancient art and artifacts from the Biblical period, including artifacts from the Temple Mount excavations. It also displays the well-preserved wreckage of Ma’agan Michael Ship, a 5th-century boat found off the coast of the kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, hence the name.
Alongside the ancient artifacts, the museum also displays a collection of several Impressionist artworks, including those by Manet, Monet, Pisaro, Modigliani, Soutine, and Van Gogh, in addition to the collection of artworks by Jewish artists who perished in the Holocaust.
4) Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art
The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art is unique as it is the only Japanese museum in the Middle East. It was founded in 1959 on the initiative of Jewish collector Felix Tikotin and Abba Hushi, the mayor of Haifa at the time.
Situated on top of Mount Carmel, the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art boasts an extensive collection of Japanese art in a rather modest setting. These include 8,500 items of arts and crafts that date back as far as the 14th century: paintings, prints, ceramics, lacquer work, painted screens, miniature carvings (netsuke), swords, and other items. This museum also displays a collection of contemporary Japanese art.
As its aim of becoming the center for studying Japanese arts and culture in Israel (and perhaps the entire Middle East), Tikotin holds several educational activities, workshops and programs. It also offers courses on the Japanese language, calligraphy, flower arranging (ikebana), cooking, and ink drawing.
A short but beautiful bamboo tree-lined entrance bridge leads guests to the museum.
5) The Marc Chagall Artists House
Named in honor of the Russian-Jewish-French artist March Chagall (1887-1985), one of the prominent Modernists of the 20th century, the Marc Chagall Artists’ House inaugurated in 1954 through the efforts from the Israel Painters and Sculptors Association.
Since it opened, the Chagall Artists House has been putting exhibitions showcasing works by Israeli artists and foreign artists based in Israel. The venue is quite small, modest, and traditional, fitting well to the quaint German Colony neighborhood. It has also served as a venue for artist lectures, intellectual discussions, and chamber concerts.
6) Castra Art and Culture Center
The Castra Art and Culture Center is located in southern Haifa. This museum is unique as it also functions as a retail center, with several shops and restaurants aside from its two museums. The first museum devotes itself to archaeological finds in the ancient city of Castra, while the second one tells the story of the Jewish people through a puppet theater. Visitors will find rows of contemporary art galleries where local artists display their works, which are also available for purchase.
7) Beit HaGefen Art Gallery
Haifa is one of the places in Israel where Jews and Arabs live in relative harmony. The Beit HaGefen Arab Jewish Culture Center is a non-profit, multi-cultural organization that promotes such coexistence and tolerance by bringing Jewish and Arabic cultures together. It also runs an art gallery, simply called the Beit HaGefen Art Gallery, which displays a collection of Jewish and Arabic art and hosts several exhibitions a year that are related to coexistence and tolerance. The gallery encourages collaboration among artists of different religious and ethnic backgrounds and facilitates discourse of the current and relevant socio-political issues in Israel.
8) Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum
The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum is a technology and maritime history museum, inaugurated in 1969. It devotes itself to Israel’s maritime history that dates back from the clandestine immigration during its British Mandate years through the history of Israeli Navy since its establishment.
Operated by the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the museum is located next to the Israeli National Maritime Museum. It will impress you with displays of retired and decommissioned warships, submarines, and missile boats, as well as the remnants of the sunken warship INS Dakar. If you are into war and naval history of Israel, you will definitely love this place.
9) Israeli National Maritime Museum
Standing next to the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum, the Israeli National Maritime Museum opened in 1953 by founder Aryeh Ben-Eli, based on his private collection. It is dedicated to Israel’s maritime history that dates back to the ancient era, most notably the 2nd-century BCE bronze warship Athlit Ram. The museum also offers a workshop on professional diving and field surveying for field research conducted at the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies (affiliated with the University of Haifa).
10) Israel Railway Museum
The Israel Railway Museum (or the Israel Railways Museum) is located at the now-defunct Haifa East Railway Station on Khativat Golani Street. It takes visitors to Israel’s railway history that dates back to the inauguration of the first line in 1892 between Jaffa and Jerusalem until the development of the present Israel Railways, which also owns this museum.
The Israel Railway Museum takes visitors back in time with its collection of antique steam-powered locomotives, coaches, luxury trains and diesel-run trains displayed around the museum’s main building. The museum complex also has a smaller building that displays a collection of artifacts such as old train tickets, train models, and train stamps used in the station.