A family picture of Mr. Musa al-Alami, a prominent Palestinian politician and founder of Arab Development Society, and his parents, 1920-1929, from the collection of Arab Development Society. © the Palestinian Museum.

The Palestinian Museum and the British Library announce first collaboration
to conserve and preserve cultural heritage

16 April 2019 / Birzeit-London: The Welfare Association's/ the Palestinian Museum and the British Library announce their first collaboration, in a new project 'Conservation for Digitisation', to conserve endangered collections relating to Palestinian history and cultural heritage. The project will be implemented between April and December 2019 and focuses on the preservation and treatment of 3,000 damaged paper-based items from public and private collections, such as letters, maps, diaries and photographs, to prepare them for digitisation.

The Conservation for Digitisation project is funded by the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund, in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, with a grant of £152,209 made to the Welfare Association-UK.

The project begins with the establishment of the first paper-based conservation studio in the West Bank, at the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, guided by British Library conservation experts. In parallel, two conservators from the Palestinian Museum will travel to the British Library Centre for Conservation in London for specialised conservation training this spring. Two British Library conservation experts will travel to Palestine to help their colleagues at the Palestinian Museum develop their capacity to enable large-scale conservation and digitisation of heritage collections, with the ultimate aim of making them available online and accessible for researchers globally.

As part of this project the Palestinian Museum has designed an education programme for its visitors, to raise awareness of cultural heritage protection needs and practices. It includes a series of specialised workshops, lectures, tours and an open day.

Rt. Hon. Clare Short, Chair of the Welfare Association -UK, said "We are very thankful to the British Council for funding this project, it is important that these historic collections are saved and available for all to see to advance our knowledge and educate future generations. Our thanks also go to the British Library for lending their invaluable expertise in this exciting joint venture."

Dr. Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, Director General of the Palestinian Museum, expressed her gratitude for the generous contribution from the British Council and the valuable partnership with the British Library. “The partnership with the British Library is central to achieving our aspirations to acquire world-class expertise to protect, document and preserve Palestinian cultural heritage. With such expertise, the conservation studio we are establishing will be the first hub for conservation work and future training in conservation in Palestine. We aim to save large volumes of endangered photos and documents held by organisations, families and individuals, and preserve them for generations to come.”

Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, said: “We are delighted to be able to share the knowledge and expertise of British Library’s conservators to support the important work of the Palestinian Museum, protecting their cultural heritage and making it accessible to researchers around the world. One of the Library’s core purposes is to collaborate with international partners to advance knowledge and mutual understanding, and we hope that the Conservation for Digitisation project marks the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with the Palestinian Museum.”

Welfare Association is registered with the Charity Commission of England & Wales (Reg. No. 1020238). The Charity’s objectives are to provide support to the most marginalised and vulnerable communities in the West Bank and Gaza and in the camps and gatherings throughout Lebanon, in the following sectors: health, education, sustainable development and emergency humanitarian relief. www.welfareassociation.org.uk

The Palestinian Museum is an independent institution dedicated to supporting an open and dynamic Palestinian culture nationally and internationally. The Museum presents and engages with new perspectives on Palestinian history, society also and culture. It offers spaces for creative ventures, educational programmes and innovative research. The Museum is a flagship project of Taawon (Welfare Association) and one of the most exciting new cultural projects in Palestine. www.palmuseum.org

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Up to 10 million people visit the British Library website - www.bl.uk - every year where they can view up to 4 million digitised collection items and over 40 million pages.