Courtesy of UNESCO National Office for Palestine, Ramallah
In 2019, the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities (MoTA) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and the Palestinian National Commission for Education, Culture and Science inaugurated the educational Traveling Museum. It was established with the aim to enhance students’ awareness of Palestinian history and cultural heritage through the presentation of archaeological artifacts that date from the Paleolithic period until the mid-twentieth century.
The museum, which was set to travel between schools and exhibits 80 artifacts that vary in material from stone to pottery, metal, and glass, as well as coins, adopted the slogan “The museum will visit you wherever you are.” But prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Traveling Museum visited only Silwad School for girls, its first and last visit.
During the crisis and the closure of schools and educational institutions, however, the need to have access to various sources of knowledge increased. As families became the spearhead of the educational process and required multiple sources of knowledge to provide much-needed reliable scientific materials, online platforms that provide quality information in many educational fields were put into the hands of students and the general public during their home confinement.
Since the museum was not able to travel during the height of the pandemic, UNESCO National Office for Palestine partnered with MoTA and, with generous support from Sweden, worked to present the museum’s objects through a virtual platform that allowed students to visit and interact. This virtual platform was built with simple tools to facilitate accessibility and foster an understanding of history through archaeology. Using attractive methods, it comprises digitized objects and scientific chronological descriptions. Thus, the digitization of the Traveling Museum provides a collection of more than 40 virtual objects that enabled the creation of the Virtual Museum that helps in disseminating the museum’s message among youth in Palestine.
The Virtual Museum intends to serve as a tool that contributes to distance learning, adopted in response to the challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19 in Palestine. It includes a website and a mobile phone application and provides students and knowledge-seekers with an opportunity to gain an overview of Palestinian history and cultural heritage from the Paleolithic period until the end of the British Mandate period in 1948. Five major historical periods in Palestine are portrayed, supported by three-dimensional photos of magnificent artifacts that were used as tools in people’s daily lives and found during archaeological missions in various locations in Palestine. This museum enables the visitor to view digital copies of these artifacts that correspond to reality, as it is possible to move and rotate them in different directions and to read and listen to brief descriptions that also explain how they were used in their respective environments.
The Virtual Museum and its content are the nucleus of a larger project that aims to document and display thousands of Palestinian artifacts for educational and research purposes. Such a museum will enhance the knowledge of youth and the general public about the treasures found in this land and will show how these artifacts contributed to the development of human civilization.
To view the exhibits of the Virtual Museum, please visit https://virtualmuseum.tourism.ps//index.php#.