If you know me a little bit, you are probably aware that I am not particularly fond of winter and I look for every possible chance to escape somewhere warmer during those months. So when I first started researching Tel Aviv and its contemporary art scene, it seemed like the perfect gateway for a winter trip (hence its position in my 2023 travel bucket list). 

Tel Aviv and its many attractions 

Tel Aviv is particularly famous for its Bauhaus architecture, a heritage brought to the city by immigrants that relocated to Israel in the early 20th century. But it is also an amazing destination for its beautiful beaches and summer activities, delicious food scene, and nightlife. So much so that it is considered the Ibiza of the Middle East, and rightfully so. 

But Tel Aviv is also the perfect destination for all of us contemporary art lovers. The city has a thrilling art scene, with numerous independent spaces and art galleries, and a museum that is absolutely jaw-dropping. 

I spent in Tel Aviv a little less than a week, as it was winter and – although the weather was particularly warm – it was not the right season for beaches and sunbathing. That being said, if you plan to visit Tel Aviv during spring and summer, I would definitely recommend planning at least a couple of days for sightseeing and contemporary art and one or two days for beaches and parties. From what I was able to see, they look absolutely amazing! 

On top of that, considering that Israel is quite a small country, you can easily use Tel Aviv as your base and visit other attractions, like Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, or the Negev desert on day trips. 

Contemporary art in Tel Aviv

When it comes to contemporary art, Tel Aviv is particularly rich and offers a vast selection of different spaces. From galleries to museums, private collections, and art centers, the contemporary art scene in Tel Aviv is quite thrilling and you can easily spend multiple days exploring the city and visiting galleries and exhibitions. 

On top of that, Tel Aviv is home to a large community of artists, and there is also an arts and crafts market taking place twice a week near Carmel Market, where you can find local vendors. 

Since we cannot comprise all Tel Aviv has to offer in just one post, I decided to start with a list of some of my favorite places I have visited during my recent trip to the Israeli city. 

So, without any further ado, here are 4 places I recommend you visit in Tel Aviv for contemporary art. 

contemporary art tel aviv - museum
sunshinecity from Italy, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

I always joke about how fast I can judge a museum or exhibition. Maybe because it’s my job, or maybe because I visit so many every month, but I tend to realize quite quickly whether I am going to like a museum or not. And with the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, we can safely say it was love at first sight. So much so, that despite the many things I had planned to see in the area, I ended up staying at the museum for a whole day and enjoying every single minute of my visit. 

The museum is indeed pretty big, with different floors and temporary exhibitions, as well as a permanent collection, so it is easy to get lost in there. That being said, I found it particularly interesting from so many different points of view, that I really do not regret spending there almost eight hours. 

The museum was originally established in 1932, while the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art opened in 1959. Since its collections were growing rapidly, they built a new location and relocate the museum to its current building in 1971. Another wing was added in 1999 and the Lola Beer Ebner Sculpture Garden was established.

Nowadays, the museum houses a comprehensive collection of classical and contemporary art, especially Israeli art, a sculpture garden, and a youth wing. Despite presenting international artists, such as 20th-century masters like Picasso, Mirò, Calder, or Roy Lichtenstein, the museum is particularly interesting for its focus on Israeli artists and art movements. In fact, both the permanent collection and the temporary exhibitions I visited has a strong focus on local artists and introduced me to names that – both for geographical and chronological reasons – I never had the pleasure to encounter before. On top of that, at the time of my visit, the museum has several exhibitions of younger Israeli artists, which made the visit even more interesting to understand the local scene and market. 

Lastly, a special mention for the architecture. Tel Aviv is particularly famous for its buildings and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art is a real gem in itself, with its staircases and clean yet intricate elements. 

Info, opening hours, and tickets: www.tamuseum.org.il

Pavel Wolberg: Panoramas – Exhibition view | Photo courtesy CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo

CCA – Center for Contemporary Art Tel Aviv

Another great discovery during my stay in Tel Aviv was the Center for Contemporary Art. The CCA (as it is usually referred to) is a non-collecting institution that rotates temporary solo and group exhibitions. As they state on their website, “the goal of CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo is to commission and produce new projects by radical living artists with a special focus on giving an institutional frame to artists from Israel.”

Originally opened in 1998, the CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo is located right in the center of Tel Aviv, near Carmel market. Its minimal interiors are great to present different types of media. Not having a permanent collection, they work with exhibitions, presentations, as well as events. They particularly focus on video-based art and new commissions and productions. CCA Tel Aviv-Yafo presents mostly solo exhibitions by living artists, with the exception of one annual group exhibition always based on a distinctive curatorial approach.

All in all, the center is a great spot to discover Israeli artists and enjoy some contemporary art, before or after diving into the amazing food you can find inside Carmel market. 

Info, tickets, and opening hours: www.cca.org.il 

Unit London – Exhibition view at Nassima Landau | Photo courtesy Nassima Landau

Nassima Landau 

I’ll be honest, I stumbled upon this small but interesting exhibition space by chance, while I was walking around the center of Tel Aviv looking for Bauhaus architecture examples. And I am so glad I found it. In all honesty, this is the reason why I never plan every exact minute of a trip and I just love to get lost in a new place, because I always end up finding something super cool. 

Nassima Landau is a foundation that presents international contemporary artists in Tel Aviv. The Foundation, the first of its kind in Israel, features major exhibitions, residencies, and unique one-time events. At the time of my visit, they had an interesting exhibition of primarily videos, featuring incredible artists like Francis Alÿs and Vladimir Nikolić, which represented respectively Belgium and Serbia at the 2022 Venice Biennale, Sebastián Díaz Morales, which participated in Documenta Fifteen in Kassel, and Tao Hui, whose video premiered at the Frieze Art Fair, Seoul.

The space is just big enough to host good exhibitions without being overwhelming, and all in all, it is the perfect destination to stay up to date with whatever is happening in the art world globally without moving from Tel Aviv. 

Further information and opening hours: nassimalandau.com

Exhibition view at Artspace TLV | Photo courtesy Artspace Tel Aviv

Artspace Tel Aviv

Last but not least, Artspace is a multipurpose space that has a strong community-focused mission and is yet another great space if you want to discover Tel Aviv-based or Israeli artists. 

Art Space TLV is a contemporary art gallery and nonprofit organization, working with both emerging and well-established artists.

Founded in 2014 as an exhibition space with a pluralistic agenda, the gallery hosts several exhibitions each year, and you can easily find more than one at the same times, as its spaces are rather big. Being primarily a nonprofit organization, Artspace is a great advocate for the Kiryat Hamelacha neighborhood, an art district comprising over 300 between artists’ studios, galleries, and other actors, and organizes events to present them to the public, such as walking tours, courses, and studio visits. 

They also run a super helpful Visitors’ center, where you can find a map of all the galleries that can be found in the area and a list of current exhibitions, to help you discover and navigate the plethora of artistic venues in Kiryat Hamelacha. The perfect starting point to discover this area!

More info and opening hours: www.artspacetlv.org

Cover photo by Reiseuhu.de on Unsplash