The Palestinian Museum
The Palestinian Museum is an independent institution dedicated to supporting an open and dynamic Palestinian culture both nationally and internationally. Located on a 4 hectare plot next to Birzeit University campus, The Palestinian Museum opened in May 2016.
Designed by Dublin-based Heneghan Peng Architects, the Museum blends a clean, contemporary structure that fits seamlessly into the landscape with an array of terraced gardens. The building includes a climate-controlled gallery space, an amphitheatre, a cafeteria with outdoor seating, a library, classrooms, storage, a gift shop and administrative spaces. The Museum opened with a focus on temporary exhibition galleries. The aim is that a permanent collection will be built up over time and lead to an expansion of the overall site.
Since completion, the museum has gradually received both local and international attention for its exhibitions and design. In November 2017, The Museum was recognised at the World Architecture Festival Awards when it won in the ‘Culture’ category.
One of the key elements with the design of the museum is the relationship it has with the landscape. Occupying a large 4 hectare site, a balance has been struck between the structure and the accompanying land that helps broaden the appeal of the museum. Róisín Heneghan, Co-Founder of Heneghan Peng Architects, spoke to Premier Construction about this and the museum’s initial success:
“The museum is on a hill looking west and from the top of the hill you can see the Mediterranean. We wanted people to be able to see it and by putting it at the top of the hill it has a presence. It has a sculpted roof form that identifies it as an important building. The building itself is long, narrow and is organised around the views of the west. This was mainly because most Palestinians don’t get to see the Mediterranean because they can’t get there.
“The rest of the land is organised into a series of terraced gardens. The most intensely cultivated gardens are close to the building which turns into a more natural landscape as you go down. There was a realisation that the building is not so big but because of the climate we could use the gardens to expand the physical impact of the museum. It’s an effective way of extending the experience without incurring a greater cost. Some people might not go to museum but will go to café with a nice garden.
“I think for a lot of Palestinians it’s a great resource. They run a lot of programmes for children and there isn’t a lot of public space in the West Bank. It’s a place for families to have a day out and I think local feedback has been very good. Internationally, it has been well received in design press. With the award nomination, it’s always good to be recognised by your peers and it’s also good for the museum.”