Through an extensive selection process The Welfare Association is intending to appoint architects to masterplan and design the Palestinian Museum which will be located in Birzeit in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The selected architects will be responsible for masterplanning a phased development of the Palestinian Museum on a very important site within the overall campus of Birzeit University, near to Ramallah.
The selection process commenced in June 2011 with over 40 architects submitting expressions of interest in the project. Five architects were shortlisted and invited to prepare initial conceptual and technical submissions. Presentations were made on 2nd and 3rd December in London by the five finalists: Consolidated Consultants from Amman Jordan; Edward Cullinan Architects from London; Henning Larsen from Copenhagen; Heneghan Peng from Dublin; and Moriyama & Teshima from Toronto. A decision on the appointment is expected to be made within the next two weeks.
The Palestinian Museum will be designed to be constructed in 2 phases with the first phase of 2,500 sq m to be completed by 2014. The construction budget for the first Phase will be approximately US$8 m. The second phase will be in the order of 5,000 sq m and will be developed following the opening of Phase 1.
The Palestinian Museum will a unique cultural project and is being developed to become the primary and authoritative source of knowledge and new thinking about Palestinian history, culture and contemporary life. Such a space does not currently exist. The Museum is conceived as a thematic rather than simply a narrative museum, in which many different aspects of Palestinian history and culture will be explored in innovative and revealing ways, creating debate and discussion about both past and contemporary themes.
The Palestinian Museum project has been in gestation for over a decade and has gone through a number of different stages of debate, thinking and rethinking. After a great deal of internal discussion and external consultation, the Welfare Association is now totally confident that the overall strategy and concept direction allow for the Palestinian Museum to be built.
Because of the nature of the Palestinian reality, where a majority of Palestinians are today living outside historic Palestine (i.e. Israel and the Occupied Territories); and because of the barriers and checkpoints erected by Israel which prevent the freedom of movement of Palestinians living under occupation (and prevent most Palestinians in the Diaspora from even entering any part of their country), the Museum is conceived as a hub which, in addition to catering to the population in the West Bank, will also serve a network of branches and associated centres, sharing with them information, research, web-based material and touring exhibitions, as well as human resources and expertise.