The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, 1959

Archive of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Symbol of the Tel Aviv Museum during the 1960s

Archive of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art

Between Dizengoff House on Rothschild Boulevard (which served as the Museum’s first abode) and its central buildings on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard, stands the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, operating as an extension of the Museum. It is part of Tel Aviv’s lively culture hub, which includes two other major cultural institutions: the Habima National Theatre, and the Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut), home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

With the city’s development and the international rise in museum exhibition standards, it became necessary to expand the exhibition spaces at Dizengoff House, the Museum’s first abode. The initial plan was for the pavilion to replace Dizengoff House, but it soon became apparent that the new building’s size would not suffice. Thus it was decided in 1964 to construct the Museum’s Main Building on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard.

In 1952, architects Zeev Rechter, Yacov Rechter, and Dov Karmi (the latter two would later be nominated laureates of the Israel Prize for Architecture) were chosen to design the pavilion to be built at the corner of Dizengoff Street and Tarsat Boulevard. According to Yacov Rechter (as quoted in the book Five Moments. Trajectories in the Architecture of the Tel Aviv Museum, 2011, p. E52), “That was the time when I consolidated my architectural world view, which is characterized by a rational approach to design – an approach that is based on a commitment to social concerns, and which is considerate of the environment. … [The pavilion is a] decent and appropriate building, a building that contains nothing that is not necessary for it to contain, and that belongs to the place where it was built.”

The modest-looking pavilion was inaugurated in January 1959 under the name Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, after the founder of the renowned cosmetics empire whose donation to the Helena Rubinstein Foundation made the construction of this pavilion possible. The opening ceremony was attended by Ms. Rubinstein, then Mayor Chaim Levanon, and many artists.

From the group exhibition Current Affairs, 2017 (curated by Doron Rabina)

Photo: Elad Sarig

The Museum’s offices, library, and exhibition spaces were housed at the pavilion for the next twelve years, till the 1971 inauguration of the Museum’s permanent building on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard. The pavilion’s upper level featured for many years miniature period rooms from the Helena Rubinstein Collection and a glassware collection. In the late 1980s, the name of the pavilion was changed to the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, and it started showing changing exhibitions of various international and Israeli art genres and forms, which attracted many visitors.

In early 2019, the Museum received a generous donation from the Eyal & Marilyn Ofer Family Foundation for a comprehensive and thorough renovation of the pavilion, to elevate it to current museum requirements. When the renovation is completed, the building will be called The Eyal Ofer Building for the Arts. The pavilion will continue to be an integral part of the complex of artistic and urban operations of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, while maximizing the advantage of its location in the cultural hub at the heart of the White City.

Helena Rubinstein at the inauguration of the pavilion, with Mayor Haim Levanon and the painter Reuven Rubin, January 22, 1959

Photo: Fritz Cohen
National Photo Collection, Jerusalem

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