365 Things to Do in Memphis #115: Check out Asian and Judaic Art at the Belz Museum

Posted by Holly Whitfield | April 24th 2012 2282 10

It would figure that some of the most impressive works of art in Memphis are hidden in one of the city's more obscure museums. Assignment #115 in the 365 Things to Do in Memphis is to visit the Belz Museum and see them.

Lion, Belz Museum, Memphis, Tenn.

The Belz Museum is the permanent, public home of Jack Belz's (the same one that owns the Peabody Hotel) private collection of Asian and Judaic art. There are more than 900 works on display in the museum, which is semi-hidden in the basement of the Peabody Place building – if you go to into the lobby next to the Blind Bear and then head down the stairs, you'll be in the right place.

Tiny elephant, Belz Museum, Memphis, Tenn.

The larger Asian portion of the museum has rooms full of lifelike stone flowers, furniture, a jeweled menagerie of tigers, tiny elephants and phoenixes, hand-carved jade sculptures, decorative pieces and a room full of (occasionally scary-looking) dolls and puppets.

The most arresting things in the museum are the gigantic, intricate dioramas carved from ivory. They're incredible – every single tiny face has an expression, every roof has tiny carved tiles and the trees have itty bitty leaves.

Carved ivory, Belz Museum, Memphis, Tenn.

The Judaic part of the Belz Collection is housed a single large room. There are handmade menorahs, sculptures (the museum has the largest collection of Daniel Kafri's work in the world) and paintings detailing the Jewish experience.

Belz Museum, Memphis, Tenn.

The coolest thing in the room is easily the Mills Violana-Virtuoso self-playing violin. It's sort of like a combination of a player piano, a violin and a jukebox (it's coin operated).

The Belz Museum is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and $4 for students.

Go there:

Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art

119 South Main Street
Memphis, TN 38103
(901) 523-2787
 

 


Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Kimberly says:

    I have visited the museum several times; it is truly a wonderous place.

  2. Bienvenido says:

    I will be planning a trip  to this Museum soon.  I have passed by it a couple times downtown but I haven't ever had a chance to go.  I can say I am very interested now 🙂

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