Israel Bible Museum of Be-er Sheva

Tour the Museum:

(Click on a Gallery listed below)

Virtual Genesis
Virtual Heroes/Heroines
Virtual Exodus
Virtual Ecclesiastes
Kabbalah Museum
Virtual Ratner Bible
Kabbalah Online 
New Kabbalah Works 

The Bible Through the 
Eyes of Children



About the Artist
Ratner Museum



Biblical art has been an integral part of cathedrals and churches for centuries. The church was the most important patron of the artist. Painting and sculptures evolved around the religious subject matter. Paintings of Madonna’s, Crucifixions, Saints and scenes from bible stories graced the homes of the great families and royalty of Europe. Literally millions of paintings of Jesus, Mary and other New Testament figures were sculpted and painted. These masterpieces would eventually form the content of every important museum in the world.

Figures from the Old Testament seldom appeared. Adam and Eve were used time to time as a vehicle for painting the human figure. Of special interest is Michelangelo’s choices of Old Testament prophets for his Sistine Chapel, Moses for a Pope's tomb, and David to represent the youth of Florence.

With the introduction of printed page came illustrations. The work of such masters as Rembrandt, Durer, and Dore adorned the bibles which more and more people had in their home. Many artists found a new interest in The Bible as inspiration and used both Old and New Testaments. As artists began to explore new subjects and forms of art, the biblical subjects became less important. The Impressionists, Surrealists, Cubists, Dadaists, Minimalists etc. did not use religious subject matter and the art collectors didn't desire it.

A rare exception is Marc Chagall, the modern master, who devoted a great amount of his output to biblical subjects.

If one searches the World Wide Web for images of Bible personalities, one finds most of their works were done centuries ago. For every thousand faces of Jesus, we might find one Moses, and far less often, representation of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Leah, Rebecah, Joshua and other figures from the Old Testament.

After completing a three year project which involved creating five bronzes to stand at the base of the Statue of Liberty and forty-seven pieces for Ellis Island, American Artist Phillip Ratner began work on a lifelong dream. That dream was to build a body of work based on the personalities and stories of the Hebrew Bible. It was hoped to place this collection at a permanent site in Israel. In 1984 Phillip and Ellen Ratner left for Israel with an extensive collection of his new work. They found their first home in the city of Safed where the doors of the Israel Bible Museum opened in the spring of 1985. He continued to add new work until 2006, when the building in Safed was no longer a viable sight for this growing collection with the added work of many other artists. In the year 2000, a second museum was begun on the theme in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. A new building opened its doors to the public in partnership with cousin and close friend Dennis Ratner.

With the museum in Safed now closed, the Ratners sought a new home for the museum and its future plans. June of 2007 found the Ratners in the beautiful Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, the historic city of the patriarchs and matriarchs. They met with the mayor Yaacov Terner and a group of municipality leaders. Within one hour, it was mutually agreed that Be'er Sheva would be the perfect setting for the Israel Bible Museum, now, of Be'er Seva and to expand the project as part of an international center for bible art.

All of the collection will be found at the Be'er Sheva Biblical Art Collection.

The Israel Bible Museum
Phone (USA): (301) 897-1518