Ben Gurion house-museum, Ben Gurion Bvd Tel Aviv
A modest house in the midst of Tel-Aviv’s activity is the place that was the first long term residence of David Ben-Gurion and his family. Now located in a street named after him, the house was built in 1930-31 when the first workers' neighbourhood was established in Tel-Aviv, on Jewish National Fund land.
The building itself is an early example of Bauhaus design that the growing Tel Aviv came to specialise in, during the 1930s. But The Bauhaus didn’t close down until 1933 and the young Jewish architects were still in Germany in 1930, so how did the Bauhaus taste reach Tel Aviv so early? Via architectural journals, perhaps.
When the State of Israel was declared on 14th May 1948, a few hundred dignitaries were invited to the ceremony, held at the Museum of Art in Tel Aviv. As Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion of course had the unbelievable honour of declaring the independence of the new state.
Ben Gurion declared the birth of the State of Israel, May 1948
The Ben-Gurion family lived in this Tel Aviv house until they settled in Sde-Boker in the Negev, in 1953. They never sold the Tel Aviv house, and always had a place to stay when they were living/working /holidaying in Tel Aviv. I am pleased that a socialist politician should live in surroundings no plusher than the ordinary citizens, but I wonder if this house is the best site for a modern museum.
Family dining room
The Ozi Zion blog writes about the house-museum and provides a virtual tour. It is the home's second floor, used solely by Ben-Gurion himself, that houses 4 library rooms and a bedroom. This is where visitors can really look into the private world of an-otherwise very public man. Ben-Gurion's impressive personal library bears witness to his serious scholarship. It includes a collection of books and journals totalling 20,000 volumes, in his daily languages (Hebrew, Russian, English, Turkish and Yiddish) plus Greek, Latin, Spanish and French, covering politics and other disciplines. The house and its objects remain as they were when the Ben-Gurions lived there.
One of the upstairs libraries
Through the Land of Israel blog has wonderful images of the small rooms. On the first floor, visitors can see the family house, especially the kitchen and Paula's room where Ben-Gurion spent his last days. This floor also includes his daughter's bedroom, which served as his own bedroom and shelter during two wars, the Sinai Campaign and the Six-Day War. In the bedroom photo, you can see a bricked-in window that made the area relatively safe as a bomb shelter.
Before his death in 1973, Ben-Gurion bequeathed his house to the state, on the condition that it became a public institution dedicated to research. The Knesset soon passed the Ben-Gurion Law which proclaimed that house would be used for the purposes stated in the will, and it has been open to the public since 1974. The Second World War blog described research he actually did in this house-museum.
The David Ben Gurion Museum in Plonsk (Poland) will be bigger.