Collections

The Tawfiq Canaan Palestinian Amulet Collection is one of the most important (if not the most important) ethnographic collection in and about Palestine. This collection is one of the largest collections globally, not only in Palestine. The Canaan Collection contains more than 1380 pieces that Tawfiq Canaan collected in his life as an ethnographer, a man of medicine, and a local historian. Born in 1882 in Bayt Jala and educated in the American University of Beirut in medicine, Canaan opened his medical clinic in Jerusalem in 1912. As his practice grew, so did his interest in folklore, folk medicine, and archeology. His work and this collection are key to help us understand Palestinian ways of being in the past, present and future. In 1996, the Canaan family restored this important collection to the Palestinian public by donating it to Birzeit University believing in the prestigious standing of BZU as a foremost academic Palestinian institution, where the collection would be safe and well propagated. An inaugural exhibition “Ya kafi Ya Shafi” featuring the collection was held in 1998 in the presence of the Canaan family members and curated by Gisela Helmecke from Pergamon Museum in Berlin. As part of the Hakawi al Mathaf programming, Birzeit University Museum is conducting a series of workshops offered to both students within BZU and to the general public. Through these workshops, Birzeit University Museum aims to engage the Museum collections as a pedagogical tool, alive and present, towards studying the collections as foundational to Palestinian culture, aesthetics and history.

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The Textiles Collection (Palestinian embroidered dresses and accessories) holds nearly 400 pieces of rare and historic textile material that tell the story of Palestinian history and design. This rare collection contains pieces from as early as the mid-18th century and quite literally traces the history of Palestine and Palestinians through embroidery and design. The collection contains pieces from various geographic regions throughout Palestine and each piece is specific to its region and time period. They vary in types of embroidery, fabric, patterns, colors and each tell a story of a time and place that is both a cherished part of a Palestinian past and a vital component in our present and guide towards our thinking about the future. The collection benefited greatly and materially under the guidance of Widad Kawar, a world-renowned collector of Palestinian textiles material culture, with whom the BZU Museum has an ongoing relationship. As part of the Hakawi al Mathaf programming, Birzeit University Museum is conducting a series of workshops offered to both students within BZU and to the general public. Through these workshops, Birzeit University Museum aims to engage the Museum collections as a pedagogical tool, alive and present, towards studying the collections as foundational to Palestinian culture, aesthetics and history.

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The Palestinian Art and Paintings Collection holds nearly 300 pieces of rare and fine art featuring some of the most notable and exceptional Palestinian, Arab and international artists including: Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Samia al Halaby, Sari Khoury, Ismail Shamout, Vladimir Tamari, Etel Adnan, Mustafa Al Hallaj, Silman Mansour, Marwan Kassab Bachi, Sophia Halaby, Rene Feurer, Emily Jacir, Kamal Boullata, Vera Tamari, Mona Hatoum, Nabil Anani, Tayseer Barakat Maurice Pasternak and many others. These pieces have been acquired over the life span of the BZU Museum through generous donations from the artists themselves, curators and galleries, as well as the ongoing work of exhibitions that attract ground-breaking artists and artistry. The BZU Museum’s art collection is notable and world-renowned because of its versatility in art styles and rich generational history. BZU Museum continues to nurture and work to expand this collection through our ongoing appeal to artists to contribute their works to further enrich the collection. As part of the Hakawi al Mathaf programming, Birzeit University Museum is conducting a series of workshops offered to both students within BZU and to the general public. Through these workshops, Birzeit University Museum aims to engage the Museum collections as a pedagogical tool, alive and present, towards studying the collections as foundational to Palestinian culture, aesthetics and history.

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