Mordechai (Moti) Omer
THE DIRECTOR and chief curator of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Professor Moti Omer was a unique character who contributed a life of service to museum and cultural life in Israel. He has been described by the Ben Uri Art Society, of which he was an international advisory board member, as a scholar of great distinction, an imaginative curator, a highly efficient chief executive and a successful ambassador, not just for his museum but for the reputation of Israeli art and artists.
His scholarship was renowned in academic circles, but his modesty limited the range of his expertise being celebrated outside Israeli art. However, his books on the British artist Turner, and his curatorship of the exhibition “J.M.W. Turner and the Romantic Vision of the Holy Land and the Bible” in Boston in 1996, plus his articles published in the Burlington Magazine, Studio International and Cambridge Criticisms testify to his breadth of interest and knowledge.
Moti’s curatorial career was extraordinary in its international reach. It included some of world’s leading museums, from New York’s Museum of Modern Art, London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Oxford’s Ashmolean, to the Bavarian State Painting Collections in Munich. In Israel, his curator- ship spanned the Haim Attar Museum of Art in Ein Hod, The Haifa Museum of Modern Art, The Museum of Israeli Art and the Israel Museum throughout the 1980s. He was appointed Israel’s Commissioner at the Biennial of Young Artists in 1983 in Paris and again at São Paulo in 1987 and 1989.
In 1974 he founded the Tel Aviv University Art Gallery and in 1995 he was appointed Director of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, known as the city’s cultural hub. Under his watch the art museum is said to have established an international reputation for excellence and diversity of programming. Through his vision and with a decade of planning, a new wing for Israeli Art is scheduled to open in a few months.
In 2003 Moti joined Ben Uri’s fledging International advisory board where he was described as “a source of constant advice and engagement”. In a tribute to him, the Ben Uri says: “It was a privilege to work so closely with him and curator Dr Batsheva Goldman Ida on their 2009 exhibition ‘Fragmented Mirror: Reconstructing the Exhibition of Jewish Artists, Berlin 1907’.”
The Ben Uri said that the Tel Aviv Museum of Art’s extraordinary collection of Israeli and International art, its blend of exhibitions, its dedication to scholarship and its ability to engage with the younger generation of artists, curators and students.
Moti Omer: curator of distinction