Zumu aims to change the concept of a museum from an elitist institution into a dynamic cultural center that reflects each hosting community.
By: Diana Bletter
Imagine a huge meat-processing factory taken over by 50 artists in all kinds of media who turn 3,500 meters of drab gray industrial space into a magical museum.
That’s what Zumu, “the museum on the move,” has done at the former Soglowek factory in Nahariya, northern Israel.
The exhibit, in conjunction with the Tarbut Movement, runs until July 2.
The idea of Zumu, a portmanteau of the Hebrew words for “move” and “museum,” is to create temporary museums that travel throughout Israel, primarily in cities in Israel’s periphery that have few cultural venues.
Admission is free because Zumu aims to change the concept of a museum from an elitist institution into a dynamic cultural hub that reflects each hosting community.
Some of the artists in the exhibits are locals; other artists participate in a residency program and create commissioned work in partnership with the local community.
The Soglowek factory is situated at the entrance of Nahariya on a eucalyptus-lined boulevard that stretches to the Mediterranean Sea. The factory will soon be torn down to make way for high-rise apartment buildings.
Since Zumu opened its exhibit at the factory in May, hundreds of people from all over Israel have come every day, including groups of schoolchildren, to explore and learn, drawing on a sense of communal creativity.
Art, education, community
Zumu was founded when Milana Gitzin-Adiram, Sharon Glazberg and Halit Michaeli joined together to combine art, education and community.
Zumu has previously held exhibits in Yeruham and Arad in the south, and Lod in central Israel.
“This exhibit has been an incredible success,” Zumu spokesperson Ariel Adiram told ISRAEL21c.
The artists transformed a factory that used to produce salami and cold cuts, he said. “We were able to bring creativity and vitality into a place that was for preserving dead meat!”
The exhibit is sponsored by the Nahariya municipality as well as a variety of organizations, including Reality Group, which owns the factory site.
The theme of the exhibition, “Life’s Work,” also touches on the new post-pandemic period and the desire to return to normal life.
In refrigeration rooms, storage rooms and at the loading dock for trucks, exhibits explore work and life and the passing of time.
An art video shows almond trees blossoming, losing their blossoms in the wind, and then blossoming all over again. There are butterflies that appear to be flying up a massive wall, moving toward the light.
Groups of students sat around on low chairs, sipping cider and eating cookies at the start of their museum tour. Zumu’s founders believe that art should be warm and sweet, open to everyone.
Visitors walk through the factory corridors and explore all kinds of art, including photographs and videos.
In one part of the factory is a display of dry branches decorated with flowers made from origami. The branches appear to be growing out of a slab of concrete, another example of rebirth.
Galia Mor, one of the museum tour guides, used to manage the culture department of Nahariya’s City Hall and took time out of her retirement to train at Zumu to guide tours through the factory.
The traveling museum, she said, “gives an incredible boost to the city.”
Read more at: Israel21C.org