Holocaust Day in Israel is a fitting day to post a blog about Reuben Hecht and the Hecht Museum. Dr. Hecht immigrated to Palestine, and in 1939 ‘Etzel’ (the Revisionist Movement) sent him to Europe. He opened an ‘Aliya-Beth ‘ (illegal immigration to Palestine) office in Zurich and in Paris, represented ‘Etzel’ in a number of countries. During and after World War II, Dr. Hecht was involved in numerous rescue operations in Western Europe.
The Reuben and Edith Hecht Museum at the University of Haifa was inaugurated in 1984. It was the initiative of the late Dr. Reuben Hecht, founder of the Dagon Silos in the port of Haifa and a founding member of the University of Haifa Board of Governors. The founding of the Museum that was to bear his and his wife’s name may be cited as Dr. Hecht’s crowning achievement in support of the University. He had previously established the Reuben Hecht Chair for the Study of Zionism and History and the Herzl Institute for Research and Study of Zionism. From his youth, Dr. Hecht was interested in the archaeology of the Land of Israel, and for a period of sixty years he assiduously collected archaeological artifacts representing the material culture of the Land of Israel in ancient times. He took special interest in finds from the Canaanite period to the end of the Byzantine period, a time of great significance for the Jewish people. Dr. Hecht, who was known for his Zionist activities, believed that archaeology was an important expression of Zionism and that the discovery of ancient artifacts was proof of the link between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
The Permanent Archaeological Exhibition is based on the collection of the Museum’s founder, who donated it to the university. The layout of the Hecht Collection is based upon two principles: that the displays are presented both didactically and chronologically and that the collection continues to highlight the Israelite period, thereby remaining faithful to Dr. Hecht’s vision.
Part of the Hecht Collection is integrated into a display arranged in chronological sequence,beginning with the Chalcolithic period and ending in the Byzantine period. Another part is integrated into a display arranged chronologically and thematically. Coins, seals, weights, jewelry, toys, oil lamps, and the ‘seven species’ are all exhibited with particular emphasis on two collections: Jewish coins and inscribed seals from the Biblical period. The museum’s collection of ancient seals is one of the largest and most important in the field.
About two years before his death, Dr. Hecht began planning an expansion of the Museum, but he died in April 1993, before he could see the realization of his intentions. The management of the University of Haifa and the directors of the Hecht Foundation, however, continued with this initiative, and the new wing of the Museum was inaugurated in October 1998. The permanent displays in the new wing are thematic and based both on archaeological artifacts from the Hecht Collection and those on loan from the Israel Antiquities Authority. The latter include finds from excavations conducted by the University of Haifa.
The permanent thematic displays:
Phoenicians on the Northern Coast of Israel in the Biblical Period – This display stresses the role of the Phoenicians as sea-going traders and focuses on their contribution to marine architecture and the technology of harbor engineering.
Ancient Crafts and Industries – The focus of this display is on seven ancient crafts and industries: metalworking, woodworking, stone vessels, glassmaking, mosaic art, the art of writing, and the physician’s craft.
The Ma’agan Mikhael Ancient Ship – The 2,400-year-old ship, its anchor, and part of its cargo are all on display.
The Art Wing of the Museum was inaugurated in early 1989. Displaying artwork from the Hecht Family Collection, this wing presents important trends in art, beginning in the 19th century. Its emphasis is on Impressionism and the work of Jewish artists in the School of Paris. Included in this collection are works by Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Pissarro, Soutine, and Modigliani.
The Hecht Museum is a perfect airconditioned addition to your itinerary in Haifa. Choose the wing that you prefer. Enjoy the view.
Hecht Museum, University of Haifa | 199 Aba-Hushi Avenue Mount Carmel, Haifa 3498838 Israel
Sun., Mon. Wed., Thu.10:00 – 16:00
Tue.10:00 – 19:00
Fri.10:00 – 13:00
Sat.10:00 – 14:00
Tel: 04-8257773, 04-8240308
Free guided tours for groups: “Museum Highlights” and “A Walk through the Bible in the Hecht Museum”, are available in Hebrew, Arabic, English and Spanish.
A wheelchair is available for visitors’ benefit.