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Tania Coen-Uzzielli: The Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art's director, Tania Coen-Uzzielli, discusses how the pandemic pushed the Museum to stretch its boundaries.

Through a Balcony: video screenings throughout Tel Aviv. April-June 2020. Courtesy of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. | Right: A balcony in Tel Aviv during the Coronavirus lockdown.

The Directors’ Series examines the future of museums as shaped by current events. Tania Coen-Uzzielli, director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art recently spoke to Shifting Vision about the reciprocal relationship between the museum and its public, and how she is navigating changes in engagement, accessibility, and how people consume art in 2021.

‘The Tel Aviv Museum of Art was founded nearly 90 years ago. Tel Aviv is a modern city, and part of the foundation of the state of Israel,’ Coen-Uzzielli said. ‘The museum was launched by the first mayor, Meir Dizengoff in 1932, who felt he could not build a city without a cultural institution.’

‘The name “Tel Aviv Museum of Art” is actually kind of an obstacle. Tel Aviv, a great city, is sometimes perceived as excessively liberal. This creates barriers. Museums are not always the most accessible institutions, and art is something often thought of as only for high-society people. I am always thinking how I can invite people to enter the museum and show them that they can be part of this institution — that they are participants, collaborators, and partners. This is the new paradigm that I have adopted when thinking about the museum and its relationship with the public.’

Sculpture Garden. Courtesy of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Coen-Uzzielli is pushing for public initiatives to bring the museum outside and make it more accessible. For example, ‘Through a Balcony' projected videos of works from the collection onto Tel Aviv buildings. At the same time, she said, ‘ I want people to understand that if they want to experience art, they have to disconnect a bit from everyday life.’ She calls this ‘museum mode’, likening it to switching to airplane mode on one’s phone.

‘When thinking about the museum I am thinking about modern and contemporary art globally. I am thinking about displaying it, but also contextualizing it in the local place and exploring how the Israeli art showcased here is interconnected with international art.’

Roy Lichtenstein, Tel Aviv Museum Mural, 1989. Courtesy of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

‘I do think that to ‘think local’ is to understand what the global art story is, and to tell it locally. Not because I am using a different language, but because I am interpreting local art through the prism of the global.’

Courtesy of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

Related links

The Tel Aviv Museum of Art

Tania Coen-Uzzielli Sees the Tel Aviv Museum of Art as a Platform for Civic Dialogue, Whitewall, 2020

Despite COVID, art prevails on Tel Aviv streets, The Times of Israel, 2020

Art in corona times: Tel Aviv museum takes works outside, Israel 21c, 2020

With special thanks the Tel Aviv Museum of Art.

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