In 1997, the Founding Committee for the Promotion of Cultural Heritage was formed at Birzeit University, chaired by lecturer Vera Tamari. The committee aimed at conserving the unique Tawfiq Canaan Collection of Amulets and Talismans, which was donated by Canaan family to the university after it was kept away in Jerusalem since 1948, protecting it from the aftermath of the Palestinian Catastrophe (Al-Nakba). It was initially conserved and displayed in a small room at the university’s main library building along with the Palestinian costumes collection bought by the university in the 1980s’.
Besides that, the first art works collection was being formed as Swiss artist Rene Feurer donated to the university some his art works in 1994 and then Syrian born artist Marwan Qassab Bashi in 1998, followed by many others later. Back then, the art works collection was conserved and displayed at Qamariah gallery for virtual arts, which was the university’s first gallery space.
The Ethnographic and Artistic Museum opened its first gallery space on campus in 2005, run by artist Vera Tamari. Simultaneously, the Virtual Gallery website was launched for archiving Palestinian art and the university’s artistic collections.
Since then, the Museum has been an open artistic space, offering several artistic exhibitions as well as the E-library, which made the Museum, all along, the first to be open all year long.
In 2010, artist Inass Yassin took the lead as museum director & designed a module for art & educational museum. Based on Collegial & participatory work a unique thematic exhibition program was introduced. An annual exhibition program that critically explores the notions of heritage, history, identity, & place have generated alternative knowledge & perspective