Introduction to Palestinian Museums
In celebration of Qalandiya International 2014: Archives, Lived and Shared, the Palestinian Museum presented its own vision of archives via the project ‘Introducing the Palestinian Museums’. It used a series of photographs to explore various aspects of the museum experience in museums both inside and outside Palestine, placing them within their societal and cultural contexts in order to begin to explore their role as archival entities.
The past hundred years have witnessed several initiatives to establish private and museum collections that shed light on various aspects of Palestinian life, history and society. These institutions serve to document, via their different spaces, collections and visions, details of the philosophy behind their original establishment: the urge not only to bear witness to Palestinian history and culture, but also to subject it to research and criticism.  Examining the museum in general and these museums in particular as a multi-layered archive that continually enacts Palestine’s varied history and shifting geography, this project uncovers along the way the many non-linear narratives that can be woven into the Palestinian question in modern times. 
The project also sought to contribute to ongoing research into museum experience and its role in contemporary Palestinian culture, and to show the extent of its contribution to the initial formation of a cultural scene. It touched on the impact of museums on stimulating the individual’s encounter with cultural fields such as art, politics and history, and societal and political topics such as national identity, and encouraged a critical perspective on these initiatives as the way to reach a fuller understanding of the present and future reality of museums and collections in Palestine. In particular, it sought to stimulate a dialogue about the role of museums as cultural spaces, rather than simply as buildings housing collections, and to discuss the problematic relationship between archives and material collections. The ultimate aim of the project was to reach a fuller understanding of the spatial and temporal connections between museums and their local environments, and of the role of museums in research and knowledge production.