In The Museum of Nature

Gabriela Gleizer

2017 - 2018

Jerusalem, Israel

Everything looks abandoned in the areas that are not accessible to visitors, at The Nature Museum in Jerusalem. In the manager’s office, in the work areas, and in the storage rooms, taxidermy animals and other things are poking out of cardboard boxes and drawers. In some places, old models and videos are sitting randomly on a table. A side corridor serves as a reflexology clinic. A parrot named Shuki lives among the silent exhibits. In the courtyard of the exhibit there is wild vegetation growing that looks like it came out of a different era. All of this combined makes the space look astonishingly grotesque.

The house was built in the 19th century by a wealthy Armenian merchant. It was built in an eclectic style that combined Eastern and European elements. In the 20th century – in the 50’s and 60’s - it was renovated and adapted to fit the exhibits of the Nature Museum. Some of the museum’s accessories were donated by the Cologne Municipality in Germany. A staff of volunteers from Germany lived in the building before it was opened to the public in 1962, and with their help, it was renovated and some of the exhibit windows were built.

The experience of wandering around the old building and getting to know it through the lens of the camera, exposes a space that combines mystery with transience and lack of formality. It is, supposedly, an area of life, or the appearance of life (taxidermy animals), which are set up and displayed in a place that was active in the past and perhaps is now finished with its role.

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