Preserving and maintaining cultural ties through the Old Hebron Museum

On 14 October 2021, UNESCO and partners celebrated the inauguration of the Old Hebron Museum after completing the rehabilitation of the abandoned historic building of “Palestine Hotel”.

The Old Hebron Museum is now home to Mohammad At-Talahmeh and Walid Abu Aysha’s 3D exhibition that is intended to mimic the experience of visiting the nearby Ibrahimi Mosque.

The work of Mohammad and Walid – both students at the Palestine Polytechnic University – is meant to allow Palestinians to access and explore the beautiful architecture of one of the holiest sites in Islam, as most cannot access it in person. Although the Ibrahimi Mosque is in the West Bank city of Hebron, Palestinians are denied access to large parts of it due to restrictive measures imposed by the Israeli Authorities.

Architectural heritage conservation is very much connected to the safeguarding of the people’s narratives and preserving cultural ties.

“Working on this project inspired me to start incorporating traditional and historical details in my upcoming projects to give them character and identity.” Walid stated.

The Old Hebron Museum aims to share stories from Hebron with local and international visitors. The premises overlook the traditional and historic urban fabric of the Hebron/ Al Khalil Old Town, which has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2017.

Mohammad and Walid acknowledge that visitors have found their exhibition to be interesting and unique.

“A number of friends from the field of architecture and people interested in heritage have viewed the exhibition and have complimented it.” Mohammad says.

However, it is not just a great experience for the visitors. Walid explains how these types of projects provide young Palestinians with an outlet to be creative and innovative.

“It was great to participate in this experience, and I would do it again. Palestinian youth are so talented and creative, and spaces like these illustrate these talents and highlight how interested young people are in their heritage and history. I certainly plan to let other young people know about these types of projects and encourage them to get involved!”