April 10th 2014
There are five Ralli Museums in the world, each dedicated to the mission of promoting the work of Latin American artists. Two of these venues are located in the coastal city of Caesarea, halfway between Tel Aviv to the south and Haifa to the north. Why would such an institution build not one, but two museums in Israel?
In addition to their goal of exposing museum-goers to the range of Latin American art, the Ralli Museums have a secondary aim, to preserve the cultures of the vibrant Jewish communities that once existed in Spain and Portugal, prior to their expulsion during the Inquisition in the 15th century. The museum also has an interest in preserving the memory of the Sephardic Jewish community of Thessaloniki, Greece, which was all but destroyed during the Holocaust.
There are two separate Ralli museums on the 10-acre museum campus in Caesarea. For those particularly interested in art representing the Golden Age of Spanish Jewry, the second museum is where you should start your tour. The spacious, open courtyard features statues of Maimonides, Ibn Gabriol, Yehuda Halevi and Spinoza – all great minds of the flourishing period of Jewish life in Spain. Note the fountain with 12 lions surrounding it. Historians believe that this design was copied from the palace of King David in Jerusalem.
Within the traditional art museum gallery space in the second Ralli museum hang depictions of scenes from the Bible that were painted in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries by European artists. The four stories of the second museum offer plenty of open space to contemplate the artwork that lines the walls as well as the sculptures that stand in the gallery interior. Clean lines and a central, curved staircase link one level to the next. The galleries are partially lit by skylights.
The original Ralli Museum sits on two acres in the same museum park. A sculpture garden decorated with olive, palm, citrus and carob trees surrounds the museum itself. Five exhibition halls are built to take advantage of the daylight that streams in from the large windows. Principally Latin American and Spanish paintings and sculptures are exhibited in this building, including works by Salvadore Dali and Aguste Rodin.