The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa Museums
is the greatest honor for me to be here today to represent the Tikotin
Museum of Japanese Art on this auspicious occasion, and to receive this
prestigious award from the Japan Foundation.
The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art stands on Mount Carmel in the city of
Haifa in northern Israel, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. It is the only museum
in the Middle East devoted exclusively to the arts and culture of Japan.
The museum was founded in 1960 by Mr. Felix Tikotin (1893-1986), a German
Jew, who had loved Japanese art and culture from his youth, and presented many
exhibitions throughout Europe. One could say that his collection of Japanese
art saved his life. On the eve of World War II, it was being exhibited in Denmark.
After the exhibition was closed, a good Danish friend then decided to send the
collection to Holland, and not back to Germany. When the German Reich overran
Europe, Tikotin followed his collection to Holland, and thus his life was saved.
Because the collection, in effect, rescued him from the Holocaust, he made it
his life's ambition to establish a Japanese museum in Israel, and a Japanese
cultural centre for everyone.
his first visit to Israel, in 1956, Mr. Tikotin decided to present a large
portion of his collection to the city of Haifa, and to contribute toward
the construction of the museum to house it.
The Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art is a cultural bridge between Japan
and Israel, two countries with a long and ancient tradition. The Israeli public
is thirsty for knowledge about the culture of Japan, about her ancient customs
so different from those of Israel and Western cultures. The museum's purpose
is to present Japanese art and culture to the Israeli public, and to reinforce
the ties between the two nations. Each year, the museum presents about seven
or eight exhibitions dealing with traditional and contemporary Japanese art.
Attached to the museum there is also a center for creative activities
connected with all aspects of Japanese culture, intended for infants, school
children, and adults. These activities include the learning of the language,
history, and traditions of Japan, and creative courses such as Japanese calligraphy,
origami, flower arrangement, and Japanese cooking. The tea ceremony is conducted
in the museum, and there are many other activities. There is also a large auditorium,
in which we welcome visiting Japanese artists, Kabuki and Noh actors, and drummers
and others. Japanese films are also shown there.
During the last five years since the Museum reopened after extensive renovations
and the addition of a new wing, we have presented 35 exhibitions, which have
been visited by more than 200,000 people. All our activities are open to children
and adults alike, Jew, Arab, and Christian, Israeli and tourists.
The year 2002 will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic
relations between Japan and Israel. Above all, the Tikotin Museum of Japanese
Art symbolizes the strong ties between our countries, and the firm link between
the two cultures.
I would like to express my personal gratitude, and that of the Mayor of
Haifa, and especially on behalf of the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, and the
chief curator, Dr. Ilana Singer, for the great honor awarded today to me and
to the museum. I thank the Japan Foundation for selecting us to receive their
award this year, and look forward to our ongoing cooperation in the future. I
thank you all for coming here today. Thank you very much.