Landmark Palestinian Museum to be inaugurated in May

The new Palestinian Museum building in Birzeit in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, will open on May 18 nearly 18 years since the plans were first initiated

The May opening of the Palestinian Museum will be followed by a programme of events and exhibitions in Palestine and Lebanon with the museum’s inaugural exhibition, Never Part, launching on October 7.

The museum programme will include the launch of several of the Museum’s flagship projects, starting with the opening of At the Seams – A Political History of Palestinian Embroidery in Beirut, followed by a projects linked to Never Part and a series of public meetings, lectures and tours with artists, researchers and supporters focussed on the Museum’s role in the Palestinian context.

Built into the hills of Birzeit, the architectural style of the museum is derived from historic Palestinian agricultural terraces that divided land. It stands on 40,000 sq m of gardens designed by Jordanian landscape architect Lara Zureikat, which will also narrate the horticultural history of Palestine.

Designed by Dublin-based architects Heneghan Peng, the Palestinian Museum will contain 3,500 sq m of exhibition and educational space and be the largest institution dedicated to conserving Palestine’s heritage, history and national culture.

Omar Al-Qattan, chair of the Palestinian Museum Taskforce, announced today that the construction of the Museum would be completed in the coming weeks and that its aim would be to act as an ambassador for Palestinian culture, allowing Palestinians to better communicate with the world and with each other.

“We are delighted that this landmark project, which has had a long and difficult gestation period starting in 1998, is finally becoming a reality thanks to the relentless efforts of the members of its board and those of the Museum team,” he said. “Our ambition is to create an institution with an international status, capable of presenting Palestinian history and culture in a manner worthy of the heroism, creativity, sacrifices and steadfastness of the Palestinian people.”

The museum team say they aim to be innovative with their approach in order to create a hub of new thinking and research about Palestinian history and culture, as well as a space for debate and creativity.

The Palestinian Museum will be a creative a hub of new thinking and research about Palestinian history and culture, as well as a space for debate and creativity

Never Part is based on more than three years of research, with its starting point being a series of personal interviews with Palestinians, at home and in the Diaspora, about objects with which they would never part. It will offer various readings of contemporary, collective history through individual perspectives. The exhibition will include research material as well as commissioned art works.

“What does it mean to exhibit objects in a museum in the context of the Palestinian experience of exile, occupation and the constant exposure of one’s culture to possible destruction or dispossession? These questions will be at the heart of Never Part,” said curator Lara Khaldi.

The Museum’s mission is to offer its programmes to audiences outside of Palestine, particularly to those Palestinians who are unable to return home to visit its main building due to the occupation. The Museum’s first major project will thus be an exhibition entitled At the Seams – A Political History of Palestinian Embroidery, which will open on May 25 at the newly refurbished Dar El-Nimer cultural space in Beirut, Lebanon.

The exhibition, curated by British curator Rachel Dedman, will offer a fresh and critical perspective on one of the most popular forms of contemporary Palestinian expression. The Museum will also launch its virtual platform in June with an interactive historical timeline developed in collaboration with the Institute of Palestine Studies.

The Timeline Project, which explores major political, cultural and social events in modern Palestinian history through the use of various audio-visual materials, will be available online and offline in the Birzeit building.

The Palestinian Museum is a flagship project of Taawon (previously known as Welfare Association), a Palestinian non-governmental organisation.