This article examines collecting practices in the context of the Palestinian Museum in Birzeit, one of the many museological projects Palestinians have been engaged with since the turn of the century, both within the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPT) and across the world.
Proceeding from theories of ideology and the question of resistance in the face of continuing attempts at erasure by an occupying force, the museum is examined first and foremost as an institution operating in the twenty-first-century condition. In an attempt to reconcile some of the institutional transformations it has undergone across the period from its early conceptualization in the late 1990s and throughout the succession of its numerous directors, the article draws a theoretical parallel between the Swiss-registered Palestinian museum and the institutional form of the kunsthalle. Despite its ostensible arbitrariness as a rare form, or its arguable specificity to the German context, the kunsthalle stood out as an appropriate archetype and lens with which to examine the collecting practices of the Palestinian Museum and the shifting visions of its history. As this relatively young institution transitions into independence from its founding organization, such an analysis could also start to illuminate the contingencies of its collecting futures.
As the twenty-first century opens, the dominance of collections in museums is certainly fading (and has faded)… If museums abandon their commitment to collections, will it be necessary to create another institution to assume that role; another museum?
Museum histories have often been thought of as histories of concentration, of the accumulation of objects assembled in one place. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, “certain age-old” museums across Europe were about to “suffocate to death,” and “a profusion of paintings climbed the walls, objets crowded the vitrines, or sprawled over the floors blocking passersby.” Reflecting upon how the First World War caused “a rupture between past and present,” the former chief curator of paintings at the Louvre, Germain Bazin, lamented what he termed the “rude acceleration of the course of history.” Lavish prewar museum interiors were transformed into spaces governed by sparseness and rationality. Partiality to what Bazin describes as a “hedonistic aesthetic which had fostered disdain for minor masters among a public blasé to everything except the most impressive masterpieces,” museums would come to concentrate on only showing their choicest pieces. This “sudden awareness of new times” meant that the profusion of works that once climbed, crowded, or sprawled across museum galleries would now encumber the museum’s storerooms (fig. 1).
The phenomenon of profusion is one that most contemporary museums contend with. Each institution mitigates the sense of logistical crisis concerning the circumstances of its “abundance,” or “excess,” with solutions that respond to its own collection policies and financial limitations. Profusion is not simply an empirical matter, dependent on an actual number of objects within a collection, rather, it is perceptual: it lies in the “eye of the (culturally and historically located) beholder.” In an era characterized by yet another profusion, of the increasing demands to “unlock” the archives, to “break down” the walls of the museum and to “share” the knowledge embedded in institutional collections, what would it mean to think of museum collections in terms of distribution rather than accumulation, of mobility rather than inertia, or even (dare one suggest) of restitution and [de]collection, rather than retention?
Fig. 1. Collection storage for paintings, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam
While many institutions face the challenge of housing growing collections, some altogether forego the work of acquiring objects, and thus the need to build and care for a permanent collection. Within the strategic plan for the Palestinian Museum initiated in 2008 by social historian Beshara Doumani, building a collection was not a priority; and the institution would not act as a repository of a physical or permanent collection. The Welfare Association, or Taawon, an independent Palestinian nonprofit civil society organization registered in Switzerland (but headquartered in Ramallah), had begun developing the idea of creating this museum as a Palestinian Memory Museum in the late 1990s. The 2000 plan for the Memory Museum was developed by academic Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, though the Welfare Association had taken out an advertisement in the International HeraldTribune in May 1998 to launch what was, at that even earlier stage, called the “Palestine Life and Remembrance Museum.” The prolonged development of the project brought about by numerous difficulties, including the onset of the Aqsa Intifada, the predicament of geographical location, and subsequent concerns surrounding national representation, informed Doumani’s alternative vision that conceived of a museum in arguably unconventional terms. His vision, as articulated in an interview with artist and theorist Ursula Biemann in 2011, was that the museum would operate “transnationally” and as a “mobilizing and interactive cultural project.” The priority was to establish a project with the capacity to reach and connect to Palestinians within the oPT, to Palestinians beyond the infrastructure of barricades, checkpoints, and the separation wall in Israel, and to the Palestinian diaspora displaced across the world.
Opening its doors in 2016, the project manifested in a monumental museum building designed by Heneghan Peng architects, and in 2019 the Palestinian Museum became the recipient of an Aga Khan Award for its “very existence,” a museum “built despite a condition of occupation and siege.” Simultaneously reflecting how the iconicity of twenty-first-century museum buildings is staged at the level of image, the most internationally circulating and recognizable representations of the Palestinian Museum are in fact of its architectural form. This article, however, distances itself from those imageries and explores how the Palestinian Museum was envisaged to function and how it has relied on a different type of collecting practice, and of staging temporary, annual, or blockbuster exhibitions. Seemingly not a radical modus operandi by any account, but the Palestinian Museum has come to be described in terms that some scholars have gone so far as to call “institutional activism” and “alter-native forms of sovereignty,” and not for the existence of a building.
While much of what is disseminated through its website, and recent press features in 2021 underscores how, under its current directorship, the Palestinian Museum is developing a permanent collection through new acquisition schemes and partnerships, the lack of a permanent collection in its early vision undoubtedly defies one of the most important traditional (and defining) roles of a museum institution. How, then, could the Palestinian Museum have called itself a museum when it first opened its doors in 2016, if it had yet to acquire a collection? Would it not have been more appropriate to name it the Palestinian Kunsthalle, the kunsthalle being the German archetype of the “art hall” that is similarly rooted in exhibition-making rather than a museum’s tradition of collecting? Where does the Palestinian Museum fit within the historically separate spheres of the nonprofit museum and the “art shed”?
The particular institutional form of the kunsthalle is one whose origins can be traced back to the latter half of the nineteenth century. It is fundamentally a non-collecting institution that exhibits objects and collections on loan from other institutions or private collections. The twenty-first-century model of the kunsthalle, if one could even suggest a singular model which unites all such institutions operating across Europe and the United States (and some further afield), is one that is rooted in community and experimentation. For an institution to define itself as a kunsthalle is to appropriate the potential of this particular form and format of institution, and how that model can function “otherwise” in contemporary cultural and political conditions.
While it has operated “transnationally,” the Palestinian Museum very much exists in physical space and within a monumental locality no less. The European Kunsthalle as an example of a contemporary kunsthalle operates without a permanent space at all, though it is arguably one of the exceptions to the kunsthalle model which does so. The European Kunsthalle operates beyond any government mandate, and has appropriated the potential of the German model to establish this independence. In a striking parallel, the Palestinian Museum proclaims not “to represent the state but rather, to work in parallel to it,” and characterizes itself as a national museum, not the National Museum. In fact, this insistent assertion of independence from any official sovereign has been consistent across the shifting visions of the museum project. Its focus towards exhibition-making, virtual galleries, and the digitization practices that have helped it circumvent the destabilizing conditions it is operating from mirror the conceptual foundations of a contemporary kunsthalle. As an institution, it emphasizes the epistemology of information and the documentation of temporary exhibitions as a substitute of an original or permanent collection display, just as a kunsthalle does. But somewhere along the grain of its history, the Palestinian Museum underwent a transformation: from a “mobilizing and interactive cultural project” which sought to mitigate the difficulties of building an iconic structure (with a set of fixed exhibitions) in 2008, to an iconic structure set within 40,000 square meters of garden terraces by 2016, and with a view towards building a permanent collection (arguably since 2018).
Historian Hanan Toukan posits that a discussion about the genesis of the Palestinian Museum is a reminder that “even the most brilliantly conceived projects encounter friction when they leave the space of conception to become transformed into concrete projects.” So while the “Palestinian Kunsthalle” could seemingly have been a more appropriate name for the project in 2008, could the certain (yet opaque) transformation it underwent by the time it opened its doors in 2016 mean it could call itself the “Palestinian Museum”? What transformative qualities or attributes (beyond the iconicity of a museum building as civilizational hardware) tipped the scales to this end? What has been reconciled between the explicit intention to democratize, and to find substitutes for the permanence of fixed exhibitions, with the static essence of establishing itself as a more traditional collection-based museum? More significantly, what alternative associations of how (or what) a museum collects will the Palestinian Museum have lost in this frictive transformation?
In the twenty-first century, if not “another” museum, a more radical model of the museum is taking shape: “more experimental, less architecturally determined, and offering a more politicized engagement with our historical moment.” With the advent of New Museology in the 1960s, the museum was no longer understood or perceived as a place for the “scholar-curator” to generate specialized knowledge and encyclopedic learning. A different set of actors with different curatorial approaches influenced by postmodern, poststructural, or postcolonial rhetorics, started to “ask museums to think about the ideological importance of everything from curatorial dialogue to the existence of multiple truths.” Curatorship has gradually turned away from object-based research and towards an increasing practice of exhibition-making; even if exhibitions were only mobilized as a driver of visitor attendance, or to bring back Bazin’s “minor masters” into public view. This did not constitute so much of a deviation from prevalent practices of “old museology,” but rather an attunement to the social values inherent within the material cultures of the museum; “an openness to different kinds of encounter with collections… a commitment to identifying the specific meanings of objects through the acts of documenting and captioning; and an exhibitionary practice which continues to encourage storytelling (and narration) through juxtaposition.”
While museums were once solely defined by their relationship to objects, and curators were “keepers” of collections (the greatest of the museums’ assets), they would increasingly become defined by their relationship to their visitors and publics. The entry of museums into this visitor or “marketplace logic” would signal an institutional commitment that went beyond acting as a mediator between the public and the display; that is, between any homogenous “imagined community” or heterogeneous body politic, and the objects, the knowledge, or the memory of a given social group that it exhibits within its walls. And it is in this vein, and within this visitor or marketplace logic that has been evolving within museum culture internationally, that the Palestinian Museum transnationally operates. While it may share many of the functional foundations of the kunsthalle, the Palestinian Museum has in fact appropriated the more radical conceptual foundations of the twenty-first-century museum, as well as those of its late-twentieth-century heir. By collecting Palestinian experiences, interactions, and memories, and forgoing the collection or accumulation of objects, the Palestinian Museum has possibly taken those conceptual foundations even further.
While collecting has a long history across most of the Middle East, the history of museums in historic Palestine can be specifically traced back to the turn of the twentieth century. Twentieth- and twenty-first-century Palestinian experiences of colonialism, occupation, and minority status within an ethnically defined state have not been conducive to creating traditional museum institutions, nor of sustaining traditional museum practices. Despite a growing museum culture that has been advancing through private collections, university initiatives, semi-official foundations, and civil society exhibitionary frameworks, it had become the norm for Palestinian material cultures to be subject to destruction, harassment, or confiscation by the Israeli military forces since the late 1960s. In the early 1970s, and as an attempt to reclaim and salvage dispersed material culture as proof of identity and rootedness, the issue of collecting and of making collections in Palestine reached the level of national duty. This “Palestinian awakening” is what sociologist Lisa Taraki attributes the relegation of the everyday, “what is still part of daily life,” to the space of the museum, and “as something that must be on display.” The institutional objectives of the museum in the Palestinian context were not only to protect those objects from “dispersal and loss,” but rather to guide an active engagement through their representation as art and cultural memory.
In seeking to preserve the Palestinian community’s cultural memory, the 2008 strategic plan of the Palestinian Museum was quick to embrace the power of the digital in overcoming the geographical (and the conditions of occupation). With the internet increasingly revolutionizing how we all live our lives, the coordinates of the Palestinian Museum’s focus towards digitization present parallels to those of many other museums worldwide. Mass culture and the capacities of late capitalism have shifted museums and exhibitions towards “models of increasing immateriality, interactivity, and spatial temporalization.” Subsequently, museums have had to reconcile the ontological security of their objects and the locality of their physical spaces within different value systems. With the profusion of demands for wider and more democratized access to museum collections, thrown into even sharper relief by the COVID-19 pandemic, the internet has transformed and assumed “the historic universalizing archival function of the museum.”
The framing discourse [of the Palestinian Museum’s response to the pandemic] is that this is not the first time that Palestinians, wherever they live, have been under lockdown or under siege. In the first Intifada in the 1980s, schools and universities were closed and people developed [networks of] “popular education.” And so in a way, what we are [undertaking through our operation] is this form of “popular education” but online and on our social media.
Rather than assuming digital practice and the museum’s use of social media to be a form of remediation and translation of curatorial (or pedagogical) practice into “popular education,” processes of indexicality and materiality underscore the digitization of museum knowledge through objects, or object lessons, into digital artifacts. Object lessons in museums in their physical, enduring forms present contemporary meanings and narratives around collections which simultaneously expose the processes and ideologies through which knowledge is constructed. The implicit ideologies of display that formulate the “museum effect” and its tendency to “isolate something from the world, to offer it up for attentive looking, to confer authenticity, and to articulate history” form a ritual encounter with objects identified by captions and catalogues, spatialized within a curatorial logic of narration through juxtaposition. The structure of that encounter and of the “museum effect” operates within a very particular division between the material and the social, the “subjective and the objective.”
The digital domain provokes a similar interpretive mechanism to forms of material culture that equally polarize the ways in which the process and practice of interpretation and the mediation of social worlds is received. The “reality effect,” that is, “the perceptions of the real that are carefully constructed and produced by digital media,” echo those vital to the production of object lessons. The ritual encounter within the digital equally captions, catalogues, and narratively spatializes within a curatorial logic of juxtaposition, even if multiple forms of information are compressed into a single space or screen. Objects in museums certainly “do not speak by themselves,” and within the digital platform, the virtual 3D exhibition, or even the Instagram carousel, the affordances and cataloguing structures similarly press objects into speech by juxtaposing them within “contexts of discourse that shape their meaning.”
The Palestinian Museum has so far established two digital programs and open-access platforms distinct from its own website. The Palestinian Museum Digital Archive (PMDA) identifies its conceptual orientation as that of a “Palestinian archive from below”; a people’s archive “where the collective history and individual experience thread through, and wrap around each other.” The PMDA borrows objects from personal or semi-institutional collections, conserves and digitizes them, uploads them to an open-access platform, and then returns them to their owners, “lock, stock, and barrel.” While it recognizes that these everyday objects are vital and valuable cultural resources, and forms a deep engagement with the objects and their history, the museum does not keep them. Rather, its principles of stewardship are focused towards understanding and disseminating the complex ecology in which the objects were created and where they exist within a body of Palestinian social history (fig. 3).
Fig. 3. The First Palestinian Arab Delegation to Britain to assess the implications of the Balfour Declaration, 1921. Said al-Husseini collection, the Palestinian Museum Digital Archive.
Threading through and wrapping around one another within Palestinian Journeys (PJ), a separate platform which traces the multiple facets of the Palestinian experience though an interactive timeline, the division between the material and the social, the “subjective and the objective” is rearticulated through a mutual subject and object, a person and a thing. The valorization of the object is no longer dependent on its material or physical presence within the museum, but on where the digital artifact exists within the ecology from which it was borrowed and to which it refers. The very function of the caption and the catalogue across these platforms is even transformed from merely being a supplement to comprehend the objects to a component of an interactive narrative album that establishes beliefs in the everyday objects it presents, rather than only communicating knowledge about them. They reflect an active engagement with the voices and values of what is represented by the objects, which extends far beyond the democratization of the digital (in overcoming the geographical) or converting a profusion of objects behind glass into another of digital images on-screen. The Palestinian Museum is claiming a museological historiography from its peoples, a “history from below” (fig. 4).
While this marks a retreat from the traditional functionality of a museum as an institution which harbors and collects objects, such a practice inherently represents the Palestinian Museum’s pragmatic response to the uncertainty and instability of the Palestinian lived experience. Maybe, on some level, taking away Palestinian objects from the Palestinian people to put them in the storerooms of a Palestinian museum mirrors the very dynamics of confiscation or loss the 2008 strategic plan of the museum was trying to mitigate against or critique. Although this practice inherently entails loss (within the walls of the museum itself), it also offers a more open-ended relationship to the future by calibrating the preservation of memory and the dialectic of loss against one another. The relegation of everyday culture as materiality worth displaying in a museum context, often veiled and decontextualized from the essence of that culture even in the Palestinian context, and the “museum effect” was fossilizing objects that previously possessed plural, ritualistic, and culturally specific functions and significances, “displaying them in a static manner distancing them from their origins.” The practices of digitization and [de]collecting are therefore activated as epistemic tools in order to gain the experiences, interactions, and memories of peoples within the museum’s curatorial realm, rather than to figuratively “lose” them to a profusion concealed or fossilized within a rack, shelf, or drawer, even within its own storerooms.
Fig. 4. Handmade Work by Omar al-Qasim using a Toothpaste Container while incarcerated in an Israeli Prison, 1989. Omar al-Qasim collection, the Palestinian Museum Digital Archive.
The people curatorial
The museum as a discursive text would not be a collection of objects but a site of competing discourses about objects, objects being necessary only in so far as they occasion debate and provoke discourse.
While the absence of a collection in a kunsthalle enables such institutions to be more experimental with their exhibitions or to engage diverse audiences, the Palestinian Museum is simply adapting conventional associations of how (or what) a museum collects. Drawing on material culture studies, we can understand any object as “a material, social, political and epistemological palimpsest.” An analysis of digital objects or artifacts and temporary exhibitions in the same way can help us to better understand the capacities of digital media to participate in the “constructed” process of provoking discourse about the real world inside any museum. In the face of continuing efforts at erasure, the Palestinian Museum was simply undertaking a more streamlined curatorial practice in its “transnational” operation, one that is unencumbered by any profusion of the physical and focused on what the digital can occasion, provoke, sustain, and reach. Or at least, it was intended to (fig. 5).
Fig. 5. A tour of the Palestinian Museum’s permanent collections room, 2020. The poster is a part of the Ali Kazak collection, which was donated to the Palestinian Museum and featured in the first exhibition to be curated solely from the museum’s permanent collection, Glimmer of a Grove Beyond: Visual Journeys through the Landscape.
Within a broader sociopolitical condition where there had not been any “top-down” power that “could impose a fixed national narrative,” the Palestinian Museum was a project designed to democratize culture (and even itself) as an arena where “multi-vocal and contingent narratives could open new spaces for imaginings of Palestinian futures.” This article cannot make assertions to prove that it has achieved or even actively pursued that intention. The Palestinian Museum’s practices of exhibition-making and digitization, as well as its cataloguing structures, undoubtedly include a process of selecting what is displayed (and excluded), how it is interpreted, and how it is represented—a process that is invariably the defining function of any museum institution. But by thinking of its collective endeavors, not through though the selective processes that it shares with other museums but through the inclusive experience of curatorial research that distinguishes it apart from them, the Palestinian Museum has established an alternative “people curatorial.” While the process of reaching out to a museum’s own peoples for contributions to its collections is not so novel an idea (it even has precedence in the oPT dating as far back as the 1970s), the “people curatorial” is a new cultural process established through the material participation and digital accumulation of peoples. In response to a context where the issue of collecting and of making collections resonates at a national scale, the “people curatorial” [re]collects the heterogeneous realities of the Palestinian body politic and wholly [de]collects them. Through such a process, the Palestinian peoples themselves could potentially become part of the collection, a part of a historical timeline, and a part of the digital effects and materialities of the Palestinian Museum itself.
According to historian David Lowenthal, “It is not a sign of despair but a mark of maturity to realize that we hand down not some eternal stock of artefacts and sites but, rather, an ever-changing array of evanescent relics.” Without ignoring the complex conditions and experiences that have informed its development, and within which it continues to operate, the Palestinian Museum was envisaged as a decentralized structure of hubs and nodes, and the promise of its democratic inclusion was to embrace the power of the digital in overcoming the geographical. In reading the digital materiality and temporary exhibition-making from a different perspective than the permanence or evanescence of stock, or from digital “reality effects,” but as part of an unfolding process of [re]collection and [de]collection, the “people curatorial” may have started to imagine new Palestinian (and even new museum) futures. Following this line of thought, perhaps it was not the physical objects and collections that were absent in the Palestinian Museum, but rather the sense of crisis that profusion could afflict more traditional collection-based museums. While Doumani’s concept of a “mobilizing cultural project” continues to actively shape much of the activity and operation of the Palestinian Museum, the increasing focus towards building a permanent collection marks a retreat to the coordinates of museological practices that date as far back as the nineteenth century and does not reflect a maturation into a more established institutional practice or presence. That is not to suggest that the Palestinian Museum should abstain from protecting material collections that have been acquired through donations, or even through active procurement, but rather, that in establishing a collections policy it should acknowledge the calibration it was (even inadvertently) beginning to institutionalize between the preservation of Palestinian memory and the dialectic of Palestinian loss.
The coordinates of the Palestinian Museum’s intended operation are certainly not the only possible (or potentially desirable) ones for rethinking current and future collecting in other museums. However, the “people curatorial” offers a different semantic model of a museum in the twenty-first century. The implications of these collecting practices extend far beyond instituting a kunsthalle’s negligible commitment to, or abandonment of, a collections policy, but rather speak to a radical model of a museum’s (if not “an—altogether—other” museum’s) continuous commitment to restitution. Embracing the kunsthalle as a more suitable form for the Palestinian Museum could have been “a way of elevating a cause and a nation by saying it loud and clear,” that in this Palestinian institution, material absence is itself a material object. But the Palestinian Museum does not need to act as a repository of the physical in any symbolic affirmation to its own physicality, or to “merit” its institutional namesake. As the Palestinian Museum embarks upon the process of registering as a Palestinian institution (no longer as a branch of a Swiss-registered institution) and grows independent from the Welfare Association, the complex conditions informing its critical public engagement will undoubtedly become even more challenging. But the destabilizing conditions it has faced throughout its shifting visions have not only provoked questions of its position as “a space of critique, resistance, and decoloniality in the convoluted colonial context of post-Oslo Palestine,” they have informed a resilience which could even start to position it as a radical institution within twenty-first-century museum discourse.
Ali T. As’ad is a curator, researcher, and educator with a critical background in architecture. He studied at the Architectural Association in London and the School of Architecture and Design (SoAD) at the University of Brighton. Ali currently manages the “Museum-Nation/State” doctoral research project within the curatorial research collective (crc) at the Eindhoven University of Technology. He lives and works (and broadly aspires) in the Netherlands.
 Polemicizing the Palestinian Museum in relation to the historical archetype of the kunsthalle stems from a methodological lens that is explored within the theoretical framework of the “Museum-Nation/State” doctoral research project. The project aims to establish a canonical understanding of exhibition-making and museum culture in the Palestinian West Bank.
 The Palestinian Museum is a Swiss-registered nongovernmental association with a branch in Palestine. It was founded by the Welfare Association, or Taawon, registered in Switzerland and headquartered in Ramallah. In November 2021, shortly before this article was published, the museum announced its independence from the Welfare Association and its registration with the Palestinian Ministry of Interior as a Palestinian nongovernmental association (effective January 1, 2022). “The Palestinian Museum Announces its Independence from Taawon and Registers in Palestine,” Palestinian Museum, November 10, 2021, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.palmuseum.org/palmuseum-registers-with-moi.
 Edward P. Alexander, Museums in Motion: An Introduction to the History and Functions of Museums, 2nd ed. (Lanham: Altamira Press, 2008), 16.
 Caroline Cornish et al., “Introduction: Mobilizing and Re-mobilizing Museum Collections,” in Mobile Museums: Collections in Circulation, eds. Caroline Cornish et al. (London: UCL Press, 2021), 5.
 Germain Bazin. The Museum Age (New York: Universe Books Inc., 1967), 263.
 Sharon Macdonald et al., “Too Many Things to Keep for the Future?,” in Heritage Futures: Comparative Approaches to Natural and Cultural Heritage Practices, eds. Sharon Macdonald et al. (London: UCL Press, 2020), 158.
 “We don’t want to collect the most valuable Palestinian things in one place, only to have them subject to harassment or confiscation. This is definitely not a repository of national patrimony.” Omar al-Qattan, quoted in Oliver Wainwright, “Palestine Museum review – a beacon of optimism on a West Bank hilltop,” The Guardian, May 17, 2016, accessed January 30, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/may/17/palestine-museum-review-ramallah-west-bank-israel. Beshara Doumani was director of the Palestinian Museum project until 2012, when artist and curator Jack Persekian superseded him. Persekian fulfilled that role until 2016 and was superseded by archaeologist and academic Mahmoud Hawari until 2018. Writer and academic Adila Laïdi-Hanieh is the Palestinian Museum’s present director.
 Lila Abu-Lughod, “Imagining Palestine’s Alter-Natives: Settler Colonialism and Museum Politics,” Critical Inquiry 47 (2020): 20.
 Referring to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, the Aqsa, or Second Intifada (lit. uprising) was a period of intensified Israeli-Palestinian violence which started in September 2000 and lasted for over four years.
 Beshara Doumani, quoted in Ursula Biemann, “A Post-Territorial Museum: Interview with Beshara Doumani,” A Prior 22 (2011): 169.
 “Jury Citation,” Aga Khan Development Network, accessed January 30, 2020, https://www.akdn.org/sites/akdn/files/media/documents/akaa_documents/2019_akaa_cycle/project_descriptions/palestinian_museum_‐_proj_description_‐_english.pdf.
 Francesca Burke, “Exhibiting activism at the Palestinian Museum,” Critical Military Studies (2020), accessed April 1, 2021, doi: 10.1080/23337486.2020.1745473; Abu-Lughod, “Imagining Palestine’s Alter-Natives,” 27.
 The Palestinian Museum’s main website can be accessed at https://www.palmuseum.org. Adila Laïdi‐Hanieh, quoted in Hanan Toukan, “Tell the World: Hanan Toukan and Adila Laïdi-Hanieh on the Palestinian Museum,” Artforum 59, no. 10 (Summer 2021), accessed June 2, 2021, https://www.artforum.com/print/202106/hanan-toukan-and-adila-laidi-hanieh-on-the-palestinian-museum-85773.
 Jack Persekian, quoted in Hanan Toukan, “The Palestinian Museum,” Radical Philosophy 2, no. 3, December 2018, accessed January 30, 2020, https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/article/the-palestinian-museum. Abu Lughod described how Zina Jardaneh, head of the museum’s board, regularly characterizes it as such and draws a link to the acceptance speech that Jardaneh delivered on behalf of the Palestinian Museum when it received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2019. Abu-Lughod, “Imagining Palestine’s Alter-Natives,” 19.
 Despite articulating a somewhat conventional nationalist political purpose, Abu-Lughod’s 2000 plan distanced itself from the Palestinian Authority and the quasi-state setting itself up in Ramallah after Oslo, as did Doumani’s focus towards transnational operation and the continued rhetoric of its board members and some of its directors. Abu-Lughod, “Imagining Palestine’s Alter-Natives,” 19.
 Hanan Toukan, “The State, the Land, and the Hill Museum,” in Rethinking Statehood in Palestine: Self-Determination and Decolonization Beyond Partition, ed. Leila H. Farsakh (Oakland: University of California Press, 2021), 110.
 Claire Bishop, Radical Museology: or, what’s Contemporary in Museums of Contemporary Art? (London: Koenig Books, 2014), 6.
 Marouf Hasian and Rulon Wood, “Critical Museology, (Post) Colonial Communication, and the Gradual Mastering of Traumatic Pasts at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA),” Western Journal of Communication 74, no. 2 (2010): 133.
 Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (Berkeley, CA, and London: University of
California Press, 1998), 138.
 Mathieu Viau‐Courville, “Museums without (Scholar‐) Curators: Exhibition-Making in Times of Managerial Curatorship,” Museum International 68F:3-4 (2016): 24. The “imagined community” being the dynamics of the socially and culturally organized imagination at the core of political culture, self-understanding, and nationalism as set out by Benedict Anderson. See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).
 The “birth” of museums in Palestine occurred within the broader context and colonial processes of institutional modernization in the Ottoman Empire as well as within the framework of European expansionism in the Middle East; namely with the establishment of the Ottoman Imperial Museum (1901–1917), the British Palestine Department of Antiquities exhibition rooms (1921–1930), and the Palestine Archaeological Museum (PAM), which opened to the public in 1938. The Supreme Muslim Council (est. 1921) was set up by the British Mandate’s High Commissioner Lord Herbert Samuel to establish the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem (opened in 1922).
 Burke, “Exhibiting activism at the Palestinian Museum,” 4.
 Nazmi Al-Ju’beh, “Palestinian Identity and Cultural Heritage,” in Temps et Espaces en Palestine: Flux et Résistances Identitaires / Of Times and Spaces in Palestine: The Flows and Resistances of Identity, ed. Roger Heacock (Beirut: Institut Français du Proche-Orient, 2008), 211; Lisa Taraki, “The Development of Political Consciousness among Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, 1967–1987,” in Intifada: Palestine at the Crossroads, eds. Jamal R. Nassar and Roger Heacock (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1990), 64.
 Vera Tamari, “Tawfik Canaan – Collectionneur par excellence,” in Archives, Museums and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World, eds. Sonja Mejcher-Atassi and John Pedro Schwartz (London and New York: Routledge, 2016), 85–86.
 Miško Šuvaković, “The Ideology of Exhibition: On the Ideologies of Manifesta,” PlatformaSCCA, no. 3 (January 2002), accessed April 10, 2020, http://www.ljudmila.org/scca/platforma3/suvakoviceng.htm.
 Boris Groys, “Entering the Flow: Museum between Archive and Gesamtkunstwerk,” E-flux, no. 50 (December 2013), accessed January 30, 2020, https://www.e-flux.com/journal/50/59974/entering-the-flow-museum-between-archive-and-gesamtkunstwerk.
 The First Intifada (lit. uprising) was a sustained series of Palestinian protests and riots against the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and within Israel. The Intifada lasted from December 1987 until the Madrid Conference in 1991, though some date its conclusion to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. Adila Laïdi‐Hanieh, transcribed from “How the region’s art sector is adapting under COVID-19,” The Middle East Institute, podcast audio, 00:26:26, March 26, 2020, accessed March 27, 2020, https://www.mei.edu/multimedia/podcast/how-regions-art-sector-adapting-under-covid-19.
 Haidy Geismar, Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age (London: UCL Press, 2018), 1.
 Svetlana Alpers, “The Museum as a Way of Seeing,” in Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display, eds. Ivan Karp and Steven Lavine (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991), 27.
 Geismar, Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age, 106.
 Anthropologist Haidy Geismar explores this ontological “slippage” between the enduring and the digital by questioning whether (within the digital encounter) we look through the platform to the worlds that it contains and represents or, rather, we zoom, both in and out, to examine the platforms and the material affordances of the technologies themselves and the ways in which they structure and catalogue these worlds. Geismar, Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age, 17.
 Eileen Hooper-Greenhill, Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge (New York: Routledge, 1992), 9.
Palestinian Museum Digital Archive. Accessed June 2, 2021, https://palarchive.org/
 Palestinian Journeys is a joint project of the Palestinian Museum and the Institute for Palestine Studies. The platform is powered by Visualizing Palestine, an independent, nonprofit laboratory for innovation at the intersection of data science, technology, and design (Visualizing Impact). Palestinian Journeys. Accessed June 2, 2021, https://www.paljourneys.org/
 Artist and curator Vera Tamari gives the example of the embroidered Palestinian dress (Thob), which has been elevated as an object of national symbolism, but which lost the complex meanings it had carried for generations within the rural context of Palestinian society in the process. Tamari, “Tawfik Canaan,” 86.
 Building upon the example of the Thob, the Palestinian Museum staged Labour of Love: New Approaches to Palestinian Embroidery (March 18, 2018–December 31, 2018), which contested the prevailing attitudes towards the value of the cultural object being in the aesthetics alone. The Birzeit University Museum had previously staged an exhibition along the same grain in 2011. Beyond Aesthetics (June 27, 2011–August 22, 2011) sought to recontextualize material objects, including traditional Palestinian costume as well as the Tawfiq Canaan Amulet collections, as tools of communication about history, societal hierarchies, economic standings, religion, and social traditions. Beyond Aesthetics, Birzeit University Museum, accessed July 18, 2021, http://museum.birzeit.edu/exhibitions/beyond-aesthetics.
 James Cuno, ed., Whose Muse? Art Museums and the Public Trust (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), 20.
 Geismar, Museum Object Lessons for the Digital Age, 13.
 Beshara Doumani, quoted in Biemann, “A Post-Territorial Museum: Interview with Beshara Doumani,” 169.
 Under the directorship of archaeologist and historian Marwan Abu Khalaf, the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem had placed an open call in a newspaper article for material contributions which would be attributed to their contributors and framed as a great service to knowledge (science) and Palestinian civilizational heritage. “Interview with Mr. Marwan Abu Khalaf, Director of the Islamic Museum in Jerusalem,” Attali’ah Newspaper, no. 70, July 5, 1979, accessed August 15, 2021, https://palarchive.org/item/210770/issue-seventy-of-attaliah-newspaper-july-5-1979.
 David Lowenthal, “Stewarding the Past in a Perplexing Present,” in Values and Heritage Conservation (Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 2000), 20–21, accessed May 27, 2021, https://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/pdf_publications/pdf/valuesrpt.pdf.
 “There will be no objects in the Museum. What a challenge to our own short-sightedness. What a way of elevating a cause and a nation by saying it loud and clear: our absence itself is the object.” Karim Kattan, “The Museum Will Be Without Objects,” The Funambulist, 2016, accessed March 31, 2020, https://thefunambulist.net/articles/museum-will-without-objects-karim-kattan.
 “The question of the museum’s role vis-à-vis the power structures it has to counter in the case of Israel and contend with in the case of the PNA was never one about whether its construction would in and of itself be a compromise with the post-Oslo configuration of power. Rather, it was always about how it would negotiate with these power structures in order to position itself as a space of critique, resistance and decoloniality in the convoluted colonial context of post-Oslo Palestine.” Toukan, “The Palestinian Museum.”