Palestinian Museum set to open, but has no exhibition to display

The new Palestinian Museum in Ramallah is set to open on Wednesday following three years of construction to the tune of some $24 million – but no exhibits will be on display for visitors.

The show that was to be the museum’s first, “Never Part”, was suspended after a spat between the museum’s board and director led to the latter’s departure.

The museum is still to host an opening, with chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other leaders expected to attend. According to the museum’s spokeswoman, the ceremony is intended only to celebrate the completion of the building.

The museum’s chairman, Omar al-Qattan, told the New York Times that the opening was worthwhile despite the lack of exhibits. “Symbolically it’s critical,” he said.

“Never Part” was to focus on interpretations of artifacts representing the Palestinian ‘refugee experience’, such as keys and photographs.

Ousted director Jack Persekian told the Times that senior management had told him it no longer supported the exhibit. “Maybe they didn’t want to take a risk with something that is so unpredictable and so uncontrollable,” he said. Artists would have been permitted to interpret objects collected by the museum however they wished.

The museum’s website calls it “an independent institution dedicated to supporting an open and dynamic Palestinian culture nationally and internationally” that “presents and engages with new perspectives on ‘Palestinian history’, society and culture and “offers spaces for creative ventures, educational programs and innovative research.”

As for its goals, the site says they are to “contribute to a vibrant Palestinian cultural scene with a national and international presence, capable of strengthening the bonds between Palestinians and those interested in their culture and history.”