My wife and myself love art and museums. We travel to visit them all over the world, but close to our heart are also the museums in Israel, the country where we live. The Israel Museum in Jerusalem is one of the two most important museums in Israel and the one that comes close to the great museums of the world combining art, archeology, history, ethnology together with educational programs as well as spaces for complementary artistic activities. The documentary titled simply ‘The Museum‘ speaks a lot to us focusing on an institution that we know and appreciate.

 

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7717146/

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt7717146/

 

Film director tried hard and succeeded to a large extent to make a film that does not fit in the category of dry and didactic art documentaries. The history of the museum is reminded only indirectly by some of the comments and the stories told on screen. There is no visual or textual review, or any debate about the precious art or the historical artifacts that the museum hosts within its walls. Spectators who never visited the museum or maybe visited it but know nothing about its history will still need to use a book or other references if they are interested to fill the gaps. chose to focus on two other elements – the people who work in the museum and the interaction between visitors and art. For the people, he let them tell their stories and the names of the the three sections of the film are related to story telling (although I confess not really catching the meaning of each name or the difference between the parts). For the art interaction he decided to film events within the museum’s day-to-day life: visits of sight-impaired persons and the way they relate to arts that are mostly visual; visits of soldiers in uniform and what art and the museum means to them; activities for groups of children with mixed backgrounds – Jewish and Palestinians.

 

(video source Giora Bejach)

 

As in many other cases, images work better than words on screen. It’s not because some, probably most of the life stories told by people interviewed in ‘The Museum’ are not interesting – they actually are, a few are even exceptional. I liked most the stories of the less famous people who are working in the museum – rooms supervisors, maintenance people, restorers. I liked less the stories of the most famous people like the rich and authoritative museum director or the government meeting rhetorically set in the museum. Best were in my opinion the scenes that caught the day to day life of this great institution – the repartitions of the room supervisors at the beginning of their watch, the ‘combing’ of the nude statues, the discovery of the shapes of a Giacometti statue by the blind visitors. The issues of the place of the museum in the complex and delicate context of the Israeli – Palestinian conflict and the disputes and controversies related to the status of Jerusalem are not absent in the film, but they were treated with a cautious approach and from a clear pro-Israeli point of view. There is poetry in this film, and viewers who know the place will get a lot of satisfaction from seeing it. It may also work well in circuits asking for support and donations. It may work less for people who do not know much about the museum. These will need to use other sources to get educated about the treasures inside and the value of this place which is one of the finest museums in the world.