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The Palestinian Heritage Museum was founded in 1962 under the name “the Folkloric Heritage Center”, by the late Ms. Hind al-Husseini after she established Dar al-Tifel al-Arabi Association. It became one of the Association’s most important facilities that were established following the Palestinian Nakba in 1948. The goal of the museum was and still is to preserve the Palestinian heritage and display it to the audience as a tool and proof of the Palestinian’s deep roots in this land. It is also a proof of the development and creativity of heritage as a basic component of forming the national identity, and a proof that this land has always been thriving with life, and was never a land without people.

Ms. Hind al-Husseini was the first to begin the collection of the museum’s possessions. She collected heritage utensils from various Palestinian villages and cities since 1948. She felt the importance of preserving the Palestinian heritage from getting lost, fraud or stolen. The first official inauguration of the museum was in 1978, and took place in the ground floor of the current building. A decade later, with the beginning of the first uprising (Intifada), the museum had to shut down for several years. It was later reopened then closed several times for various reasons related to maintenance, restoration and area expansion. Finally, it was reopened in May 2012 under the name “Palestinian Heritage Museum/ Dar al-Tifel al-Arabi Association”. It continues its work under this name to this day.

History of the Museum’s Building

According to the resources related to the building, it is assumed that the late Salim al-Husseini started the construction of al-Dar at the end of the 19th century (1882). The construction of the building began during the time when his son, Musa Kazem al-Husseini, was appointed in a high-level position in the Ottoman government in Istanbul. It was therefore possible for Salim al-Husseini to finance the construction through financial transfers from his son, Musa Kazem Pasha. The cost of construction of the building at the time was around 5000 Ottoman lira.

Furthermore, Salim al-Husseini built a house close to his relative’s house, Rabah Afandi al-Husseini, known today as the “American Colony Hotel”. This building is constructed according to the pattern known as “Bait al-Liwan”, consisting of two original floors, and a third one that was added several decades later to a part of the original house’s area.

It is noteworthy to mention that the late Salim al-Husseini was an influential personality in the political and social life at the end of the 19th century in Jerusalem. He was mayor of Jerusalem from the late 1880s to 1897. He passed away in 1906.

Museum’s Objectives

  • Keeping, preserving and displaying an abundance of cultural and national heritage, both written and audio-visual, according to the latest scientific methods and technologies.
  • Introducing the audience and students to the benefits of their national heritage and raising awareness towards its importance, considering it one of the sources of knowledge and a vibrant element in the formation of national identity.

Museum Collections:

The Palestinian Heritage Museum owns a valuable and rare collection of heritage tools, Palestinian traditional dresses, silver jewelry, metal, copper, pottery and straw utensils, furniture, etc. The number of heritage pieces exceeds 3000 pieces that tell the story of the Palestinian folkloric heritage.

The importance of the museum collections is not only due to their originality and rarity, but as they also constitute an important source of knowledge for researchers in the Palestinian folkloric heritage. Most of the existent pieces in the collection were accumulated in the 20s and 30s of the 20th century, when the Palestinian Folkloric Museum was founded in 1936 during the British mandate of Palestine. It was founded by a group of foreign orientalists living in Palestine, along with prominent Palestinian personalities, including Muslims, Christians and Jews. The pieces were collected over a number of years by purchasing them from their original owners, who had fabricated them for their personal use and not for documentation or imitation. The ownership of the Palestinian Folkloric Museum’s collection was transferred to Dar al-Tifel al-Arabi association in 1969. It was then that the work of the Folkloric Museum was suspended in 1948 with the end of the British mandate. The collection was stored in the Palestinian Archeology Museum (currently known as Rockefeller Museum) during the Jordanian rule. There are several other details about the history of the various collections that can be found in the exhibition room designated for this purpose in the museum.