Harry Recanati was a major force in Israeli business and banking, with a family with whom he clearly wished to have no connection. However, his love of art – and particularly modern South American art -inspired two amazing linked museums in Caesarea.
One building, inspired by his families Sefardi routes, via Salonika and with Italian connections, is in the style of a traditional Spanish building with a beautiful courtyard, complete with cooling fountains. Its enormous interior, over three floors, has paintings from Europe with biblical themes, each one giving its Tanach based quotation. They are not by any means by important artists, but they are importantly displayed, in matching modern frames and having been heavily restored. The galleries also display some life size bronze statues by European artist who were murdered in the Holocaust.
Adjacent to this building is another, with an interesting display of the archaeology and history of the area, together with some finds (and copies of more important ones, too) but the other five galleries display an amazing collection of South American art and artists. Whilst there is no obvious Jewish theme to any of the pictures, the real eye opener is an enormous collection of Salvador Dali bronzes, many on familiar themes (droopy watches, for example) as well as his very interesting design for a menorah!
What you will not find in either gallery are guide books, gift shops or cafes. This was an express request of Mr Recanati: clearly a man with VERY strong views! The museums, like the car parks and toilets, are free and spotless.
The Ralli museum is well signposted off Rothschild Boulevard which is easily accessed from Route 5211 (although the map says route 6511!), just off Route 2 at the Or Akiva junction.
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