The season for culture in Tel Aviv never seems to end, with weekends, particularly summer ones the time when the pickings are the richest. As you plan your visit, check out the Web sites of your favorite troupes and ensembles to see what’s on during the days and nights you’ll be in the city.
To get a feel for the heart of Tel Aviv’s contemporary culture, head for the Cinemateque, a showcase for edgy Israeli and international cinema.
Take the morning to enjoy the Tel Aviv Art Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of Israeli art. Its collection of modern art, which goes back to the museum’s beginnings in the 1930s, includes late 19th- and early 20th-century masters such as Cezanne, Monet, van Gogh, Chagall and Modigliani,. The concerts offered in the museum’s two auditoriums are fixtures of Tel Aviv’s cultural life.
For lunch, head to one of the cafes or restaurants in the nearby upscale Basel neighborhood. This neighborhood is also the location of the ballet school and small performance hall of the Israel Ballet Company, famous for its staging of classical favorites is one of Israel’s many cultural gems blessed by the contribution of immigrants from the former Soviet Union.
In the late afternoon, it’s time to enjoy design culture. Whether for architecture or fashion, the revamped old neighborhoods in the heart of Tel Aviv are the place to go. The heart of the White City, with its cluster of 4000 World Heritage Site Bauhaus landmarks, is on and around Rothschild Boulevard. The tiny boutiques on Sheinkin Street reveal Israeli urban style, where the favorite colors seem to range from black to blacker. You’ll find fashion names like Sigal Dekel for clothing and Ayala for jewelry in charmingly restored Neveh Tzedek, which is also popular for its restaurants.
Plan your Neveh Tzedek afternoon to a performance at the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance and Theatre and after dinner you’ll be right there. Suzanne Dellal is home to the famed Batsheva modern dance company as well as the Inbal Ethnic Dance Center, which draws its inspiration from Yemenite heritage. A few minutes away, in Jaffa, you’ll find the home theater of Mayumana, Israel’s exciting answer to “Stomp.” Dance lovers should time their Tel Aviv stay to coincide with the fall Tel Aviv-Yaffo International Dance Festival.
It’s time to gallery hop today along Gordon Street, not far from the major hotel strip. Then head over to Dizengoff Street, the main drag of early Tel Aviv. You’ll find more Bauhaus gems here, including nearby Habimah Theater. Although its performances are only in Hebrew, Israel’s national theater is a must-mention on any cultural tour of Tel Aviv. With its roots in early 20th century Russian-Jewish culture transplanted to the “first modern Hebrew city” today’s repertoire reveals its diversity, from “Antigone” to an intriguing Hebrew-language “Driving Miss Daisy,” a remake of “Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” and much more.
Nearby is the Mann Auditorium, built in 1957 as Tel Aviv’s first major concert hall. It’s now undergoing a major makeover, looking forward to a grand re-opening in October 2009 to help celebrate Tel Aviv 100th birthday, and in time to host the 50th annual International Harp Competition. The Helena Rubinstein Pavilion of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, with it changing contemporary exhibits, is also in this area
Not all the galleries are on Gordon Street, which you’ll find out this evening when you head over the North Port. The highlight here, if you like over-the-edge contemporary, is at Bayit Banamal, once an abandoned warehouse, now a collection of shops and art displays exploring women’s issues, both universal and Israeli.
You can have an early dinner at the North Port, or come back here after your evening performance. The Golda Center for the Performing Arts is home to the Israeli Opera, whose daring interpretations of classical masterpieces, alongside traditional staging of others, have won it a loyal audience. This ultra-modern facility is also the home theater of the Israel Ballet Company, the municipal Cameri Theater, and the venue for the Gala Concert of the Keshet Eilon Violin Mastercourse held each summer at Kibbutz Eilon in the Upper Galilee.
Today begins with cultural heritage. In Tel Aviv, that means Eretz Israel Museum, where displays of ancient art include mosaics, glass and ceramics. Later, you’ll have time to explore more of Neveh Tzedek and Jaffa, which has its own wonderful art galleries. In Neveh Tzedek, don’t miss the Nahum Gutman house, devoted to the watercolors of this early painter who chronicled the beginnings of Tel Aviv.
For more information visit the city's website