The Museum on the Seam is a socio-political contemporary art museum located in Jerusalem. The Museum is housed in a building that was built in 1932 by the Barmki family. Following the war of 1948 until the Six Day War of 1967, the building served as an army outpost on the border between Israel and Jordan alongside the Mandelbaum Gate that connected the divided city.
Between 1970 – 1997, the museum featured a permanent exhibition about the reunification of the city.
The Museum in its unique way, presents art as a language with no boundaries to raise controversial social issues for public discussion. At the centre of the changing exhibitions in the Museum stand the national, ethnic and economic seam lines in their local and universal contexts.
The Museum endeavours to examine social reality within the regional conflict, to advancing dialogue in the face of discord and to encouraging social responsibility that is based on what we all have in common rather than what keeps us apart.
Between 1999 – 2005 an interactive exhibition on tolerance understanding and coexistence was on display. Since 2005, the building has been serving as a socio-political contemporary art museum, initiated by the designer and curator Raphie Etgar thanks to the generous support of the von Holtzbrinck family of Germany.
Between the years 2005 and 2008, the Museum presented a series of exhibitions on the theme of human rights. The series opened with ‘DEAD END’ which looked at the threat that violence poses to Israel’s social fabric. The second exhibition in the series, EQUAL AND LESS EQUAL, opened in September 2006 and dealt with work and slavery and exposed the distressed existence of man in a world of globalization and migration.
In the summer of 2007, BARE LIFE opened at the Museum, the third exhibition and last in the series dealing with human rights. The exhibition sought to examine the disintegrating line between abnormal and normal situations. The exhibit pointed to the dangerous place where a temporary emergency situation can become a legitimized status quo accepted by the silent majority.
The exhibition ‘HeartQuak’ dealt with the subject of anxiety in its local and universal contexts and was opened in July 2008. HeartQuake tried to expose and accentuate people’s emotional encounter with their surroundings, and through the prism of anxiety to examine their responses as injurers and as injured – with the aim of understanding and influencing the dynamics of social and political relations.
In May 2009, NATURE NATION opened at the Museum. Nature Nation is based on diverse aspects of distinctions, positions, beliefs, ideologies, and social, political and economic points of departure that explore the complex encounter between man and the environment and between man and nature. The exhibition proposed a critical reading, which presumes that the encounter between them is a mirror for broader phenomena. This mirror reflects the crisis in the relations between man and nature, which finds expression in neglect, conquest and deterioration.
In January 2010 the exhibition ‘HomeLessHome’ aspired to investigate the relationship between the private home and the state. It studied the formal and functional similarities between the two spaces which enabled the definition of both as ‘home’ as in ‘the national home’, and the difference between them, which traditionally places the former in the private or natural sphere and the latter in the political sphere. The home is seen as something “natural”, as a space dominated by needs that are of no interest to the designed public space. Its interior is identified as a private, safe space, beyond the reach of legitimate intervention of the state.
In 2010 ‘THE RIGHT TO PROTEST’ exhibition was opened at the Museum. A time of different and varied ideologies, mutually remote in their location on the political spectrum, and moreover, mutually hostile – Israeli society is divided in its protest; it seeks a solution for its difficulties, it is split and fractured, with profound rifts both within itself, and vis-à-vis its Palestinian neighbours. This marks the onset of a debate occurring in this exhibition, on the affinity between ideology and artistic creativity. That creativity sets out for us the ideology, by means of the artist serving as moral compass between contradictions and opposites. No artist can give way on the connection between his creativity and reality; nevertheless, according to Nietzsche, no artist can “tolerate reality”. Creativity would not exist in the absence of reality, and the artist’s work consists of building, between it and himself, a bridge that we onlookers are invited to stride across to encounter it on the other side. That is not for the purpose of getting us to accept the simple and straightforward interpretation arising from the work; rather, it leads us to deconstruct its components, to interpret their significance and decipher the hints which generally evade our eyes.