Visiting and checking out museums is a popular activity in Israel. And it’s not so surprising because Israel has the most museums per capita in the world with over 200 of them.
While you can expect to find the usual art, archaeological, religious, natural, and historical museums in Israel, other museums present a unique and unusual offering. You can find a maritime museum on the one hand and a railway museum on the other. There’s a museum dedicated solely to a historical person, such as the Ben-Gurion House, which was built at the home of the former Prime Minister. You can also check out a sports museum, a museum dedicated entirely to Judaica, and a couple of museums devoted to the preservation of memory of the Holocaust victims, most notably the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
Israel is also home to Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, which has the distinction of being the only Japanese art museum in the Middle East.
If you’re looking for something a bit more offbeat in your museum-hopping in Israel, head to the Southern District and find a hidden museum gem there, called the Fine Art & Doll Museum. It’s also called the Arad Doll Museum or simply Doll Museum.
The history of the Fine Art & Doll Museum and its founders
The Fine Art & Doll Museum is located in Arad, a city bordering the Negev and Judean Deserts. Arad is home to a diverse population of more than 26,000 people.
And perhaps Arad’s diversity may have lent itself to having such a unique museum, which is the brainchild of a husband-and-wife tandem of Eduard Shruster and Miri Leibovitz Shruster.
Like the majority of Israelis, Eduard and his family are immigrants. He and his family came to Israel from Latvia in 1971 and resided in Beersheba for a time. In 1978, the family went further east and settled in Arad. In the same year, Eduard established his “Studio and Gallery” tutorial institute of painting, drawing, sketching, and sculpture for students of all ages.
In 2006, Eduard and Miri Shruster moved to the newly founded Art Village in Arad, where they established their Fine Art & Doll Museum, which was inspired by commedia dell’arte, a form of professional theater in Italy that flourished between the 16th and 18th centuries. It is known in English as “Italian comedy.”
Eduard Shruster’s drawings and sculptures are being displayed in several exhibitions all over Israel and abroad. They’re also present in several museums and private collections. Eduard’s artworks are made from a variety of metals, especially bronze, beaten copper, and multicolored metals. Some of the techniques in creating Eduard’s art involve intricate processes of oxidizing and highly skilled welding. These intricately designed works of art bring forward Eduard’s delicate touch and aesthetics.
Eduard’s artistic styles are mostly Art Nouveau and Art Deco. His works of art carry the message by highlighting disproportion and distorted perspectives. Recently, Eduard has begun involving himself in photography, emphasizing natural light conditions.
The Fine Art & Doll Museum is truly a unique museum, and the artworks are quite stunning, mesmerizing, and impressive, which is the evidence of Eduard’s gifted talents. The life-like expressions of the museum’s dolls and sculptures will amaze (and sometimes amuse) visitors. In addition to the displays of original dolls and bronze sculptures, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions, master classes, and guided tours. You can also check out its shop that sells collectible dolls, prints, and other gifts and souvenirs.
Since visits to the Fine Art & Doll Museum are by appointment only, you should book one in advance when you plan to visit Arad.
Once you enter the museum, you will be warmly welcomed by the Shruster couple, who will not only guide you through the artworks, but also provide you with riveting stories of how they came to these creations. Visiting the entire museum takes around one to three hours.
The Fine Art & Doll Museum is one of the places you shouldn’t miss when visiting Arad.
Fine Art & Doll Museum – general information
I’rit Street 38,
Sunday to Saturday – 08:00 to 20:00
Note: Visits are by appointment only
Please call for reservations and entrance fees.
Parking is also available.