For the next year, visitors to the Tel Aviv Central Bus Station can enjoy a new 1000-metre art exhibit across the seventh floor of the building. The exhibit is the brainchild of Mati Ale, an insurance assessor who took up street art photography. He told the Jerusalem Post, “I thought, ‘This is like an open museum.’ And in my mind I was thinking, ‘This is my painting here, this is my other painting over here.’”
The bus station, which at one point was the world’s largest, was built in 1967. At the time, financial difficulties caused a halt in construction, until 1993, when the building was reopened. Once a bustling centre of commerce, its 1st- and 2nd-floor bus stops were moved to the upper floors in 1998, and the loss of foot traffic caused a significant drop in commercial activity. Many of the shops on those levels closed down, and the lower floors today resemble a slum.
The goal of the art exhibit is to create exposure for street art and improve the appearance of the station. The vast white walls of the seventh floor, opened in 2002, were perfect for that purpose. Devoid of retail space, the floor nonetheless sees 3,000 to 4,000 passengers pass through each day.
The exhibit is not the only effort to bring the arts to the bus station; it currently also houses two theatres, an acting school, a comedy club and a gallery. When this exhibit closes in a year, if it is successful, another exhibit could take its place.
The current exhibit officially opened on Saturday and boasts a variety of artists, styles, and materials.