(JTA) – Israel’s first Arab museum of modern art officially opened in the Galilee city of Sakhnin.
AMOCA, the Arab Museum of Contemporary Art, opened Wednesday, with a ceremony attended by Sakhnin Mayor Mazen Gna’im and Nechama Rivlin, the wife of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.
The museum is a joint project of Sakhnin, a predominantly Arab city, and Jewish Israeli sculptor Belu Simion Fainaru. Founders have said the museum’s mission is to promote peace and dialogue.
The opening exhibition is called “Hiwar,” which is Arabic for “dialogue.”
“We’re involving artists from the region, and setting it up here will develop art in the area and will put contemporary art within reach of the masses, Arab and Jewish alike,” Fainaru told the French news agency AFP.
“This museum, which blends the work of Jews and Arabs, is a revolutionary museum. It is a museum which urges ‘coming together’. It is a museum which challenges the artists who live in their own private spaces, and calls on them to meet with other artists, from other places, with different associations. A new partnership and cooperation will be created here, which does not distinguish between Arab or Jew. The time has come for us to recognize that we do not live in parallel spaces, but rather share the same space, a space in which we must meet, not as strangers, or out of pain, but as partners,” Nechama Rivlin said during the ceremony, according to the Office of the President.
The new museum has a collection of 200 contemporary international works of art.
The museum was originally scheduled to open last fall, but was delayed, first because of Israel’s war in Gaza and later because of other Arab-Jewish tensions, according to the Times of Israel.