Birzeit Museum Aims to Preserve Palestinian History

A $24 million Museum will open its doors Wednesday in Birzeit in the occupied West Bank, as a space to celebrate and redefine Palestinian art, history and culture.

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and other dignitaries are expected to attend the opening ceremony, but a spokeswoman acknowledged on Sunday that “there will not be any artwork exhibited in the museum at all.”

The museum is backed by a private organization, Taawon — Arabic for “cooperation” — and is not affiliated with any political entity.

Omar al-Qattan, the museum’s chairman, said Palestinians were “so in need of positive energy” that it was worthwhile to open even an empty museum. The cost of project was mostly raised from private Palestinian donors.

A picture of one of the first cars to enter a town in Nablus, as displayed in the Palestine museum in Birzeit, West Bank (Al Jazeera)

A picture of one of the first cars to enter a town in Nablus, as displayed in the Palestine museum in Birzeit, West Bank (Al Jazeera)

Alongside the physical building in Birzeit, the museum has built an extensive digital audiovisual archive called the Family Album project, which contains more than 10,000 photographs from Palestinian families in the country and throughout the diaspora.

In a further attempt to reach Palestinians living abroad, the museum plans to commission satellite exhibitions in other countries.

 

Although there are a number of what Mr. Bahour called “niche museums” in the West Bank and Gaza, the Palestinian Museum would be the largest institution of its kind.

The building, designed by Heneghan Peng, an architectural firm in Dublin, will host the high-profile opening ceremony a few days after the 68th anniversary of the Nakba, or catastrophe.

Mr. Hawari, director of the museum, said it would be an institution that “links Palestinians together, at home and in exile, wherever they may live.”

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