The Vessel

by Anna Altman

The long, low building of the Palestinian Museum houses galleries, screening rooms, classrooms, a café and a bookshop, and the museum’s offices. Outside are over 400,000 square feet of gardens, designed by the Jordanian landscape architect Lara Zureikat and planted with local trees and plant species. The complex cost an estimated $30 million and took four years to build. In the next ten years, funds permitting, a second phase of building will more than double the usable exhibition space and introduce a library. The building’s site is on long-term loan from Birzeit University, whose main campus is within walking distance of the museum. Omar al-Qattan, the chairman of the Palestinian Museum taskforce, told me he hopes that students will visit and make themselves at home.

That evening, however, the interior of the building was empty. The galleries, classrooms, and offices all sat vacant, waiting to be used.


The full article appears in Even no. 5, published in fall 2016.

Anna Altman, a former editor at the New Yorker, is at work on a book about architecture.