The center has great ambitions and plans for the future. This is evident in our vision for the ongoing establishment of the museum Story of a people. This museum would be one of its kind not only in Palestine, but also in the whole Middle East. It will present Palestinian history in five stages using the latest technologies, both 3D movies and modern audio technologies, in an all-sensory experience. The vision for this museum is to be a leading Palestinian institution that documents moments of the Palestinian history by demonstrating, through the latest technologies and collective items, how the past shaped our present.
We have already received a great deal of support for this project. We have received support and funding ($110,000) from the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad which we have used to complete initial stages of planning and infrastructure, establishing a budget for the project and creating a virtual tour of the museum, as it will appear once completed.
We aim to broaden both visitors’ perspectives and those of the residents of the camp, challenging their knowledge of themselves, their history, their journey and the wider world. Moments of the modern Palestinian history will be captured and recreated in order to give visitors a closer feeling of the reality that shaped the refugees’ lives. The museum will define the Palestinian refugees’ uniqueness through long journey of refuge and displacement.
In addition to the permanent exhibition, there will be a space for temporary art and cultural exhibitions for Palestinian artists. The museum will act as an important source of income for the local community, creating about 30 permanent jobs for the youth and others, and 100 more temporary jobs. The gift shop will also sell embroidery productions and art pieces made by the women on the camp, increasing their income for themselves and their families.
We hope that the museum will become a landmark tourist destination, one that increases the awareness of local and international communities to the suffering of the Palestinian refugees. It will inspire life-long learning, advance knowledge of our experience, and strengthen our communities.
Why a museum?
Traditionally, Palestinians have relied upon a narrative history passed from one generation to another. It is only recently that Palestinians have started to think in the direction of documenting their history and displaying it through museums. Hence there is a shortage of museums at the national level. In the diaspora, many ‘museums’ are in fact temporary show rooms with very little original documents and items, and mainly focus on a specific topic related to an overall event taking place. Part of the reason for this shortage is the dispersed documents due to the refuge and displacement. Furthermore, wars and displacements have led to the unfortunate loss of historical documents and archives. The 1982 Lebanon War is a flagrant example, where the exile of the PLO from Lebanon led to the loss led to the loss and destruction of major components of the Revolution’s archives.
Aida Youth Activities Center has become known for its creative cultural projects that reinforce a sense a Palestinian identity and culture amongst our youth (projects such as the ‘key of return’, the embroidery project and traditional folkdance (Dabka) group). The museum will act as an educative place that encourages historical understanding and helps bridge the gap between the past and present, for both the youth of the camp and visitors.