The Palestinian Museum in Birzeit

Saturday, 29 October 2022 - 11:00 am (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Architecture, Museums, Exhibitions, Union for the Mediterranean
Reading Time:  6 minutes

The Palestinian Museum © I Love Falastin/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Palestinian Museum © I Love Falastin/cc-by-sa-4.0

The Palestinian Museum is a flagship project of the Welfare Association, a non-profit organization for developing humanitarian projects in Palestine. Representing the history and aspirations of the Palestinian people, the museum aims to discuss the past, present, and future of Palestine. The Museum in Birzeit (25 km north of Jerusalem) opened on 18 May 2016, despite not having any exhibits. The inaugural exhibition “Jerusalem Lives” was opened on 26 August 2017. On 29 August 2019, the museum received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Representing the history and aspirations of the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Museum aims to discuss the past, present, and future of Palestine. The museum’s research programs develop knowledge that is relevant inside and outside Palestine. Through its digital platforms and international partners, the museum aims to connect with about 10 million Palestinians scattered around the world, and with all those interested in Palestine. The museum aims to transcend political and geographical borders, and address the mobility issues due to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Through local, regional and international partnerships and affiliate centers, the Museum seeks to connect Palestinians worldwide. With an extensive network of partnerships within the region, it hopes to act as a hub for cultural activity there. The idea of developing a museum was initiated in 1997 by the London-based Welfare Association to commemorate the Nakba, and later developed to a broader viewpoint to documenting Palestinian history, society, art and culture from the beginning of the 19th century.

“It is not necessarily to start or stop at the Nakba, but nevertheless to look at Palestinians before that and after that … take that history and that memory as a means to reflect on what’s happening today and as a way to think through ideas, concepts and propositions for the future.” Jack Persekian, former director of the Palestinian Museum.

The Museum aims to be an innovative venue for creating and communicating research, knowledge and new thinking about showcasing Palestinian society, art, history and culture. In May 2015 the museum officially joined the International Council of Museums. In May 2016, it was announced that Mahmoud Hawari would succeed Jack Persekian as director, who was ousted by the board after three and a half years. Writer and academic Dr. Adila Laïdi-Hanieh was appointed as Director General in September 2018. She developed the first five years programs strategy of the museum, and established two new departments focusing on curating, and on research and knowledge programming. She led the Museum’s COVID-19 lockdown programming in 2020, that enabled it to increase and continue providing its activities online without interruption, while diversifying its audiences.

The architectural firm responsible for the building is Heneghan Peng, who designed the Grand Egyptian Museum. The building aims to bring together a mix of exhibition spaces, research, and education programmes. Through its digital platforms and international partners, the Museum seeks to connect with about 10 million Palestinians scattered around the world, and with all those interested in Palestine. The Palestinian Museum is notable as a winner of the 2019 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. When it was shortlisted for the award earlier in the year, the museum was noted for marrying an aesthetically pleasing design with environmental responsibility. Located atop a terraced hill, the museum building overlooks the Mediterranean. With a design inspired by the surrounding rural landscape, the building integrates seamlessly into its environment. The building’s facade is made of local limestone and its cascading gardens represent the history of Palestinian vegetation and agriculture. Builders laid terraces by hand, incorporating artisanal knowledge and skill. Outdoor garden spaces extend interior spaces to facilitate outdoor exhibitions and blend the building with its environment. The building’s interior contains galleries, educational and research facilities, and administrative offices. The museum’s sustainable construction earned it LEED Gold certification. The building design and operations take sustainability into account. To reach LEED standards, the builders needed to implement systems control technologies that were new to the area’s building industry. The museum building is built on nearly ten acres of land donated by Birzeit University near Ramallah, and the cost of the building is estimated at US$24 to $30 million. Funds were contributed by “over 30 private Palestinian families and institutions”, including the A. M. Qattan Foundation, the Bank of Palestine (privately owned), and the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development. The museum was inaugurated by Mahmoud Abbas on 18 May 2016, but it was “plagued by a series of cost overruns and delays”, with some blaming Israel Customs authorities for those delays.

Read more on The Palestinian Museum, Museum of the Palestinian People in Washington D.C. and Wikipedia The Palestinian Museum (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.






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