The Museum of Islamic and Near Eastern Cultures in Be’er Sheva presents a variety of historical and contemporary works of material Islamic culture. It aspires to bring to the public’s attention, and enhance its awareness to, the value of the artistic and cultural traditions of the Middle Eastern region in general and of Islam in particular.
The museum was founded following a ruling in 20 11 by Israel’s Supreme Court concerning the designation of the Great Mosque building in Be’er Sheva. The guidelines of the museum team are that the Ottoman mosque itself is the primary and most important exhibit of the whole museum. Emphasized in the curatorial approach and the educational program is the building’s historical role, and the richness and beauty of the culture of Islam.
In the museum courtyard archaeological findings from the Muslim periods in the Holy Land are displayed. Among them are typical examples of architectural ornamentation in Islamic art: vegetal motifs, geometric motifs, and calligraphy. The main hall accommodates temporary exhibitions where the emphasis is on inter-cultural encounters between traditional Islamic culture, external traditions, and contemporary arts – encounters that can generate reciprocal dialogue.
The new museum is a major part of the project for conservation and development of Be’er Sheva’s Old City, and it is part of the Museum Trail that is being created in the area.
Since the dawn of time, Be’er Sheva has been an oasis and a way-station on the trade routes between the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, and Syria. The markets made it into a trading center and an intercultural meeting point. The museum aims to continue offering local visitors and those from farther afield a fascinating and enriching inter-cultural experience in the city of Be’er Sheva.