Newly Appointed Director of the Israel Museum Backs Out After Two Months

Some speculate the former director might still be playing puppet master.

Eran Neuman, Photo Elie Posner, Courtesy of The Israel Museum.

The newly appointed director of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Eran Neuman, has decided not to head the museum after all. Barely two months after taking over from longtime director James Snyder in February, Neuman has decided instead to keep his directorship at the Tel Aviv University’s David Azrieli School of Architecture.

“The decision was taken following differences of perception in his role and working conditions,” reads a statement from the museum posted on April 5. The museum declined any further comment.

The museum’s former director of 20 years, Snyder, announced his decision to step down from the directorship, and take on the newly created role of International President, at the end of February 2016, effective January 2017.

Neuman was then appointed unanimously by the museum’s board of directors in January, and began working part-time on February 19, the New York Times reports.

Shortly after Snyder took on the new position, created especially for him, the director emeritus was the subject of a controversy at the beginning of this year, when it was revealed he had been receiving two salaries: one from the government-funded Israel Museum and another from the non-profit organization American Friends of Israel Museum.

Neuman has not commented on his decision, but anonymous sources close to him speculated to the NYT that perhaps he did not anticipate the toll that long hours, foreign travel, and fundraising efforts would take on his personal life (he lives in Tel Aviv with his family, about an hour away from Jerusalem by car.)

Yet others claim that Snyder, who is said to hold power over the museum due to his expert fundraising skills, might still be in control of the directorship, wanting input on future exhibitions.

Haaretz reports that Neuman never signed a contract, and emphasizes Snyder’s great influence over the institution as a reason for Neuman’s backing out of the deal.

In any case, the board is again on the hunt for a new head. In the meantime, the museum’s deputy director Ayelet Shiloh Tamir will serve as acting director.

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