BZU Museum recently held a workshop concerning the history of jewelry design in the Tawfiq Canaan Amulet and Jewelry Collection for students from the College of Fine Arts, Design and Music at Birzeit University. Specifically, BZU Museum conducted the workshop in the space of the museum for third- and fourth-year students of design from the college. Respectful of the safety protocols of the university concerning the pandemic, we held the workshop in the open gallery space of the BZU Museum, including an open and accessible workstation and a slide show of each piece on the adjacent gallery wall. BZU Museum’s Balquees Nakhlah, lead coordinator for the Ethnographic Collections which include the Canaan as well as the Textiles Collections in the museum’s holdings, lead the workshop alongside the instructor of the jewelry design course, Rawan Bazbazat. The workshop focused on two main themes. The first theme included a historical discussion about the rare Palestinian collections and about Tawfiq Canaan, his work as an Palestinian ethnographer, and how he actually collected the pieces we have. The second theme focused on the aesthetic quality of the jewelry on display and the design techniques involved in making each piece under discussion. Balquees, in addition to her work on the collection, is also a researcher on Canaan and his work and as such, she was able to share with the students her historical as well as technical insights into the collections as a whole through the pieces she focused on in the workshop.
This workshop is a part of a series of workshops that BZU Museum is currently offering for both students within BZU and for general audiences from outside of the university. Our initial focus in these workshops is to work with students and professors who can engage the BZU Museum collections as a pedagogical tool as we present the collections as rare insights into Palestinian culture, aesthetics and history. These workshops are part of our larger mission to have the museum and our collections talk — nurturing a lively and active learning space, teaching the world how museums in the Palestinian context can challenge us to rethink how we engage the past in the present to imagine our futures.