HAIFA CITY MUSEUM, Haifa
Yotam Yakir, General Director, Haifa Museums
Inbar Dror Lax, Curator, Haifa City Museum
Inaugurated in November 2000, the Haifa City Museum is a dynamic platform for researching, and analyzing the city's past and present cultural heritage. The City Museum strives to generate the historical discourse surrounding the social and political issues, which are inseparable from Haifa's unique human cultural fabric and its distinctive character, especially its heritage of diversity, and perpetual transformation.
The museum dedicates many of its exhibitions and activities to projects dealing with history, urbanism, multinationalism and multiculturalism, as a means of stimulating an active social discourse.
The museum's exhibitions gather under one roof the rich and varied stories of Haifa's different populations, putting together new stories out of multiple historical fragments through thematic exhibitions. These exhibitions seek to tell the many untold stories within the fabric of the city's life.
In a desire to examine Haifa's place as a city that led formative process and social and political changes in Israel, the City Museum attributes great import to initiating a fruitful dialogue with the community. Alongside temporary exhibitions, the museum serves as a platform for extensive cultural activity, research, and critical discussion. These are explored as part of artist meetings, symposiums, lectures, as well as organized tours around the city, featuring local scholars, artists, curators, and researchers.
The Museum's Education Department offers diverse family activities and provides educational values by nurturing new generations of culture lovers and developing the relations between culture, community, and society.
The Historic Buildings in Haifa's German Colony
Since November 2000 the Haifa City Museum has hosted in a spectacular complex of buildings constructed during the Templers period in the Haifa's German Colony.
The restored and reconstructed Templer Community House was constructed in 1869, and was the first house the Templers built in Palestine. The main hall on the ground floor served for assembly meetings, prayer and festive occasions. The school was situated on the top floor, and was later transferred to the building erected behind it.
The Temple Society, a religious messianic movement formed in Germany, was founded in Palestine in the second half of the 19th century, the German Colony in Haifa and five additional colonies.
At first, the Templer settlers focused their economic activity on agriculture, mainly on raising crops such as grapes for wine production and olives for making soap. Due to vagaries of climate, harsh weather, theft and pest infestation they were forced to greatly reduce their agricultural activities, and resorted to industry and commerce.
They began to develop roads, and to transport passengers and freight by wagons instead of pack animals. This, in turn, required wider roads and pathways, improved routes between Haifa, the Galilee, and Nazareth, and the establishment of transportation services between Haifa and Acre, all of which resulted in increased security on the roads. The Templers also opened large stores selling imported as well as local goods. In Haifa, they founded a high-quality soap factory whose products were partly exported, and they also set up accommodation for tourists in Haifa and the Galilee. They introduced mechanized production methods which were gradually adopted by local factories and workshops.
The contribution of the Templer settlers to Haifa was very significant, bringing about the development of the Central Carmel area, especially after the roads to the mountain were paved and the first private residences were built. They made the German Colony into one of the most beautiful residential areas in Palestine. In addition to their large stores and hotels, and their industrial plants, they built a cement factory, and a bank. They were responsible for initiating and accelerating the development of all these diverse projects.
Apart from their economic contribution, the German Templers also contributed to the cultural activities of the country by opening libraries. With time, their religious fervor gradually diminished. About a third of them joined the Nazi party in Palestine in the 1930s. When World War II broke out, many of them were exiled by the British to Australia as enemy aliens, and the rest were deported on the eve of the War of Independence, in 1948.