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Jack Persekian steps down as director of new Palestinian Museum

Institution is due to open near Jerusalem next year

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Jack Persekian has stepped down as director of the Palestinian Museum, which is due to open next year in Birzeit, north of Jerusalem. Persekian, the founding director of the Sharjah Art Foundation, has driven the project since his appointment in 2012. The new institution will be dedicated to the history and culture of Palestine over the past two centuries.

“Persekian resigned as a result of differences over planning and management issues,” says Omar Al-Qattan, the chairman of the Palestine- and London-based Al-Qattan Foundation, one of the main funders of the museum. The search for a new director is under way, he adds. Persekian has declined to comment.

The museum is a flagship project of the Welfare Association—a non-profit organisation registered in Switzerland—which says it “is committed to providing development and humanitarian assistance to Palestinians”.

The association has funded the capital and operational costs for the new museum. Foundation stones were laid in early 2013 for the $30m building, which is designed by the Dublin-based architectural firm Heneghan Peng.

According to The Economist, around $21m has been raised for the project, with funding from more than 30 Palestinian individuals and institutions. These include the Al-Qattan family, the Bank of Palestine and two Middle Eastern construction companies: Projacs and Consolidated Contractors Company.

In August, museum officials said that the planned launch date of 15 May would coincide with the 68th anniversary of the Nakba, when the Israeli state was established in 1948 and more than 750,000 Palestinians went into exile. Al-Qattan says that the museum is still due to open in 2016, although the opening date is yet to be confirmed.

The collection will be built through acquisitions and donations. “Located within occupied territory, the museum’s virtual presence and worldwide network will, by necessity, be as important as its home base,” the organisers say.

Families across Palestine are donating photographs to an archive at the museum that aims to document the personal histories of the region.

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