Artists home a showpiece for cutting-edge creations

TEL AVIV — One of Israel's — no, the world's — most extraordinary museums recently opened in Israel's ancient port of Jaffa.

The Ilana Goor Museum, named for its artist-owner, is both a gallery displaying Goor's own art, sculpture, jewelry and design, and a repository for the vast, unusual collection she has amassed from the far corners of the earth.

But that's only half the story.

Because this array of striking and curious artworks has been breathtakingly displayed within the beige stone walls of a spacious 18th-century pilgrim's hostel — a building painstakingly restored and refurbished, complete with arches, porches, vaulted halls, cloisters, staircases, skylights, picture windows and terraces overlooking the Mediterranean and the 4,000 year-old port.

The ancient hostel — dating from the mid-1700s, and the first inn providing shelter to Jewish pilgrims en route to Jerusalem — is also the home Goor shares with her husband. And that is another part of the museum's charm.

Visitors are free to wander through the Goors' living room, guest bedroom, the guest bathroom with its stone sink and hand-crafted bronze fittings, and the magnificently equipped stone and steel kitchen.

Everything is Goor-designed, from the tables to the chairs to the towel racks, to the coat hooks, created artfully to startle or entertain.

Her work is monumental. It exudes the most extravagant, even brazen sense of style. Her sculptures — fashioned from wood, glass, bronze, iron, tapestry — can be vast and daunting, or tiny and poignant.

Jewelry is startlingly bold — requiring the wearer to have both a dramatic sense of style, and a goodly amount of chutzpah.

Furniture is ingenious, designed to amuse, to impress or to shock. And yet it is created with such imagination and taste that, somehow, none of it goes over the top.

The Ilana Goor Museum is open daily, as is its terrace restaurant. There, visitors can gaze at Jaffa's mosques, its building parapets and cupolas, the sea's waves and fishing boats, and snack on exquisite-looking (and exquisite-tasting) tarts, focaccias, salads, pies, drinks and coffees. The museum shop sells Goor's jewelry, tableware, fabrics and clothing.