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The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, 1959

The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, 1959

Archive of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Symbol of the Tel Aviv Museum during the 1960s

Symbol of the Tel Aviv Museum in the 1960s

Archive of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The Eyal Ofer Pavilion (Formerly the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art)

The Eyal Ofer Pavilion operates as an extension of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. It is located in a lively urban cultural hub between Dizengoff House on Rothschild Boulevard (which served as the Museum’s first venue from 1932 onwards) and the Museum’s main buildings on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard. The city’s cultural hub also encompasses two other major institutions: Habima National Theater, and Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Heichal HaTarbut), home of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

With Tel Aviv’s rapid growth in the 1940s, there was a need for a dedicated exhibition space for art, and the pavilion was intended to replace Dizengoff House as the Museum’s permanent residence. In 1952, architects Zeev Rechter, his son Yacov Rechter, and Dov Karmi (the latter two future laureates of the Israel Prize for Architecture) were chosen to design the pavilion. According to Yacov Rechter, “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.” (Five Moments: Trajectories in the Architecture of the Tel Aviv Museum, 2011, p. E52).

The modest-looking pavilion was inaugurated in January 1959 under the name Helena Rubinstein Pavilion, after the founder of the renowned eponymous cosmetics empire, whose donation through the Helena Rubinstein Foundation made the construction of this pavilion possible. She honored the opening event with her presence, alongside then-Mayor Chaim Levanon and many artists.

The Eyal Ofer Pavilion, 2023

The Eyal Ofer Pavilion, 2023

Photo: Elad Sarig

When it became apparent that it would not be possible to build the pavilion at the size needed for a museum of international standards, it was decided to construct the Museum’s Main Building on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard. For a dozen years, until the inauguration of the Main Building in 1971, the Helena Rubinstein Pavilionn housed the Museum’s offices and library as well as its exhibition spaces. For many years, its upper level held exhibits of miniature period rooms from the Helena Rubinstein collection, and a collection of glassware items. In the late 1980s, the building was renamed the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art, and featured temporary exhibitions of local and international artists in all fields of art, which attracted many visitors.

In early 2019, the Museum received a generous donation from the Eyal & Marilyn Ofer Family Foundation for a comprehensive renovation of the pavilion, to bring it to current museum requirements. On completion of the building’s overhaul in March 2023, its name was changed to the Eyal Ofer Pavilion. It continues to be an integral part of the artistic and urban operations of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, while maximizing the advantage of its location at the heart of the historic White City. The Eyal & Marilyn Ofer Family Foundation has asked the Museum to ensure that the past support of the Helena Rubinstein Foundation is appropriately commemorated in the renovated building.

Helena Rubinstein at the inauguration of the pavilion

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

Photo: Fritz Cohen
National Photo Collection, Jerusalem

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