In Israel, A Tel Aviv Suburb On A Museums Spree

by David Paul Appell

The suburbs of the world have generally not been considered hotbeds of serious culture (sorry, multiplexes screening Gnomeo and Juliet and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never don’t count). But in Israel, the municipality of Holon, some 3 1/2 miles (6 km) outside Tel Aviv, has been racing to transform itself in the past half dozen years into just that. Designed by world-class local architect Ron Arad, the 65-million-shekel (US$17-million) Design Museum Holon, a vision in red and orange steel flowing against the sand dunes, broke ground in January 2007 and opened its doors this past spring, becoming one of the few museums of its kind in the world; its big current temporary exhibition is the hundred-plus-object “Post Fossil: Excavating 21st-Century Creation” (through April) -- something to do with the "Fred Flintstone of the future" (oy, you'll have a yabba-dabba-do time).

But what may be even more jaw-dropping is that this is just the latest fruit of a building blitz that started in 2004 in Holon, a city of just under 170,000, which has produced a whopping eight museums. Since Holon styles itself “the Children’s City,” several are pretty much geared to kids, like the Israeli Children’s Museum and the Israeli Puppet Center; others include the Israeli Cartoon Museum (left), the Israeli Center for Digital Art and the Interactive Science Museum. Toss in the Museum of Holon History for good measure, and suddenly hanging out in the ‘burbs doesn’t seem like such an odd idea after all.

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