Jerusalem may be home to fabulous ancient relics, but not many people realize that it also has a blossoming and varied modern art scene.

Aside from the Israel Museum, the artistic jewel of the capital city, there are many other places to find artists doing their thing, rendezvous with those who have dedicated their life to taking curious visitors around to see it all, and the workshops that let you in on trade secrets.

  1. The First Station Artist Market
A family on the wooden walkway among artists’ booths at The First Station, Jerusalem. Photo courtesy of The First Station

Once a part of the old Ottoman train line from Jaffa to Jerusalem, today this historical site functions as an outdoor leisure center where friends meet for a bite, participate in a yoga class or enjoy a concert.

With the old train tracks converted into a wooden walkway, it’s also a popular spot for local artists to sell their goods during arts-and-crafts fairs every day, starting at 4pm Sunday to Thursday, 9am Friday and 8:30pm Saturday.

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Posted by ‎התחנה הראשונה ירושלים – The First Station Jerusalem‎ on Thursday, February 11, 2021

Peruse the stalls, which offer handmade products from local artisans from a whole host of artistic backgrounds and mediums such as eco-printing, fashion, jewelry, graphic art and sculpture.

Support Israeli small business owners by purchasing pieces of affordable art, and you will feel the value of buying your Israel souvenirs directly from the artists who made them.

  1. Hutzot HaYotzer Artist Colony 
David Harel in his Jerusalem Artists’ Colony studio. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman

Located just outside the walls of the Old City sits Hutzot HaYotzer, a clearly marked collection of artist’s workshops and showrooms open to the public.

Studios include those of traditional painters, leather workers, jewelry makers, fabric artists, photographers and more. Many of the artists having drawn inspiration from the holy city that surrounds them, and so it is a great place to pick up one-of-a-kind Judaica, especially prayer shawls and ketubahs unlike any you’ll find in a store.

As of this writing, about half the studios are open from 11-4, and more will go back their regular schedule as tourism resumes.

  1. Hadara’s Hands-On-Clay Workshops
Photo courtesy of Hadara’s Hands-On Clay Workshop, Jerusalem

Jerusalem is not just a place to purchase extraordinary art; it’s also a place where you can create your own. In her German Colony studio, ceramics artist Hadara Rabinowitz makes clay sculpture fun for all ages through her hands-on family-friendly workshops, classes and private events. Some of her own items are for sale there and ship internationally.

Participants of all levels can create and paint their piece of clay art, guided by Rabinowitz and her arsenal of stamps, stencils and other aids, starting with wet clay and finishing with a glaze of their choosing. Items are then fired in the kiln, ready to be taken home for use or display.

During the pandemic, Rabinowitz opened an outdoor location and now she’s back in an indoor, air-conditioned space. Morning, afternoon and evening slots are available. Contact (972)-50-673-6643 or hadarara@gmail.com for bookings.

4. Graffiti Tour of the Shutters in Machane Yehuda Market

Solomon Souza street art featuring a lion, in Jerusalem’s Machane Yehuda market. Photo by Yehoshua Halevi

It’s no secret that the Machane Yehuda Market’s shutters come alive at night as the shuk’s produce stalls close for the day and the bustling nightlife scene begins. The shutters are decorated with fabulous murals by street artist Solomon Souza.

You can book a personally guided tour of the shutter murals with tour guide Debra Nussbaum Stepen of Debra Tours during hours when the market’s stalls are closed and the shutters down. On weekdays, Stepen adds Jerusalem-themed music to these tours; on Saturdays she runs the tours in keeping with Sabbath restrictions, prepaid. Either way, you’ll learn the stories, sing the songs and see the artwork.

She also offers additional walking tours including Art & Architecture of the Old City. Contact debra@debratours.com

  1. Musrara: The Naggar School of Art and Society 

This venerable institution in Jerusalem’s Musrara (Morasha) neighborhood on the seam of east and west Jerusalem opened a virtual museum during the pandemic and is now open to the public once again.

Naggar offers a core study program in photography, new media arts, new music, visual communication and phototherapy. With an eye toward creating social change through art, it runs photography and phototherapy workshops to underserved communities such as special-needs children, youth at risk, senior citizens and Arab residents in addition to tours and workshops, the JerusaLAB interactive laboratory, three art galleries, and the Jerusalem Greenhouse for Artists in Musrara.

Check the website for hours and programs.

  1. The Jerusalem Scribe
Kalman Gavriel leading a scribal arts workshop. Photo © Yaakov Margol

Commission a custom piece of scribal art, purchase parchment-based originals or prints, or even pick up a quill and ink, and learn the art of Hebrew calligraphy and the spiritual meaning behind it all, from an accomplished artist with The Jerusalem Scribe.

A master scribal artist, Kalman Gavriel creates meaningful pieces and holds English-language workshops in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. A passionate soul, he is always up for sharing his rare gift with others, or just a good chat about spiritual art.

  1. The Museum for Islamic Art
Inside the Museum for Islamic Art. Photo by Shay Ben Efraim

Presenting the Islamic arts from its infancy in the seventh century up until the glory days of the 18th century, the Museum of Islamic Art has six permanent exhibitions — calligraphy, painting, jewelry, rugs, watches and ceramics –as well as rotating exhibitions on themes such as chess and algebra, aiming to encourage coexistence through art and knowledge.

Tickets are sold on the museum’s website and are valid for a single visit.

  1. Hansen House
Visitors viewing “Space Reflections” from the upper floors of Hansen House. Photo by Samantha Baron

This design, media, theater and technology workshop/exhibition space on Gedalyahu Alon Street was founded in 1867 by the Joint Anglican-German Protestant Community in Jerusalem as a leper asylum. These days, the magnificent building and grounds ooze artistic creativity. Check the website for upcoming events at the time of your planned visit.

  1. Hamiffal Community Center 
A place to lounge and soak up the artistic vibe at Hamiffal. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman

For concerts, and cultural events, or just a cup of coffee and a nose around, HaMiffal (The Factory) is one of Jerusalem’s most interesting community art projects.

Housed in an abandoned 19th century stone building at 3 HaMa’aravim Street, the space was converted by the community for the community as an inspirational open artists’ house.

Within its walls are a vegetarian café, garden, a shop selling local artists’ work, and events from language exchanges and special screenings to concerts, workshops, exhibitions and parties.

Check here for the events schedule. HaMiffal is open Sundays through Fridays.