Political Education Dialogue at the Beit Nayem Training Camp in Syria, where the Palestinian Liberation Organisation headquarters were located, 1976, from the collection of Nehaya Mohammad. © The Palestinian Museum.

Colored poster of the Exhibition of Palestinian Poster, held at the Arab University of Beirut, in 1979. Appearing on the poster are Palestinian maps with the word Palestine written on them in different languages, 1979, form the collection of Ali Qazaq. © The Palestinian Museum.

The Palestinian Museum archives 18,000 documents during the first phase of the Digital Archive Project

31 October 2018 - Birzeit/ Ramallah: The Palestinian Museum, within the framework of the Palestinian Museum Digital Archive (PMDA) Project, archived 18,000 documents during the first and founding phase of this three-year project. By the end of the project, 145,000 documents will have been collected and archived. The PMDA constitutes one of the most important digital platforms of the Palestinian Museum. It includes photographs, documents, objects and artworks from endangered archive collections that document the history of Palestine from the 1800s to the present day.

The project collects archival materials from individuals and institutions, creates a digital reference for each item, coupled with descriptive information, and uploads the same onto the PMDA platform. The platform will be launched and made available to researchers and to the public in early 2019.

The Palestinian Museum has so far archived 64 collections comprising personal collections belonging to individuals and families, collections that belong to institutions, and collections amassed by specialized researchers and photographers. These include the collections of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS), The Arab Women's Union, Tamer Institute for Community Education, Salfit Municipality, and Sareyyet Ramallah scouts. They also include personal correspondence of activists and militants, such as Omar Al-Qasim’s, a rare art prints and poster collection donated by  former Palestinian Ambassador Ali Qazaq, papers of the prominent ethnographic and folklore researcher Professor Sharif Kanaana, historic images of Palestine taken by French photographer Joss Dray, etc.

The DA includes distinctive collections that focus on an array of topics. One such topic is the development of the women’s movement in Palestine. Browsers will be able to find on the PMDA for example never previously published images of Palestinian women in training camps in Lebanon. The Archive also includes posters and stories from the Tamer Institute for Community Education, photos documenting the history of the labor movement in Palestine, and archives of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society dating back to the 1970s.

The Palestinian Museum Director General, Dr. Adila Laïdi-Hanieh, described the project as “a major breakthrough in the context of documenting Palestinian history. During the next few years, the Museum will present to Palestinians and all interested parties a reliable and near-comprehensive digital reference library of the cultural, political, and social history of Palestine. With that aim in mind, we are dedicating all the resources of the Palestinian Museum to ensure the sustainability and expansion of this work and its availability to the public in the best possible form”.

During the next phase of the project, archiving efforts will cover the archives of the Inash Al-Usra voluntary women’s society, particularly those of its founder the late Samiha Khalil, those of Dar Al-Tifel Al-Arabi educational and welfare organization in occupied Jerusalem, the archives of El-Funoun Popular Dance Troupe which include photos and audio-visual files documenting its formation in the late 1970s, three different collections documenting the rebirth and creative vitality of contemporary Palestinian theater in the 1980s, two historic collections belonging to pioneers of Palestinian visual arts, etc. The project will also seek access to Palestinian archives in Jordan and Lebanon.    

In parallel to the DA project, the Museum seeks to build and develop the capacities of the project’s staff, who have recently received technical training from a digitizing team from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), which will later mirror the items of the PMDA on its digital library.        

This project has been made possible by a grant from the Arcadia Fund, a charity founded by Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. Arcadia’s grant to the Palestinian Museum realizes one of the organization’s charitable aims, namely to preserve endangered cultural heritage.

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 and culture. It also offers spaces for creative ventures, educational programmes and innovative research. The Museum is one of the most exciting new cultural projects in Palestine and is a flagship project of Taawon-Welfare Association which is an independent Palestinian non-profit organisation, committed to providing development and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, 1948 Areas, and the Palestinian communities in Lebanon. This year marks 35 years of continuous giving, humanitarian work and development.