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$18M ‘Museum Without Borders’ Opens in Occupied West Bank With Show Questioning Idea of Nation States

The headquarters of the A.M. Qattan foundation in Ramallah, providing new studios and galleries, aspires to be a symbol

A.M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, 2018. Courtesy: A.M. Qattan Foundation

A.M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, 2018. Courtesy: A.M. Qattan Foundation

A.M. Qattan Foundation, Ramallah, 2018. Courtesy: A.M. Qattan Foundation

A new cultural centre, the headquarters of the A.M. Qattan Foundation, is opening in the occupied West Bank. The Foundation’s 7,700 square-metre permanent home in Ramallah, designed by Seville-based architects Donaire Arquitectos, provides new studios, galleries, as well as educational spaces including classrooms and a library.

The Foundation’s chair, Omar Al-Qattan, son of founder and philanthropist Abdel Mohsin Al-Qattan, talked to the Art Newspaper about the challenges of installing an arts space amidst political tensions. ‘My father said that we needed a landmark – something for people to refer to, almost as a symbol,’ Al-Qattan said.

The arts centre has suffered from a series of delays due to the difficulties of building in the occupied territories, and the challenges of sourcing skilled labour and materials. ‘It has been years of fighting to achieve anything close to the standards we wanted. There are defects, but it is the best we could do while building under (Israeli) occupation,’ architect Juan Pedro Donaire told The Guardian.

The inaugural exhibition, titled ‘Subcontracted Nations’ – curated by the Foundation’s director of public programming Yazid Anani – draws together artists including Naeem Mohaiemen and Larissa Sansour to question ideas of the nation state. The arts space will be double the size of the Palestinian Museum, which opened in May 2016 in the West Bank university town of Birzeit. Don’t miss our review of the Palestinian Museum – and its aspirations to be a museum ‘without borders’ in the occupied territories.

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