Written by Claire Messenger, Manager, International Training Programme
The British Museum’s Palestinian textile collection constitutes one of the largest textile collections at the Museum, with over 1000 pieces, and is one the largest and most extensive in the world. The BM’s collection is unique in so far as it contains men’s, women’s and children’s dress (garments, hats, headdresses and face covers), cosmetic pouches and soft furnishings that roughly cover the period over the last 150 years. Most significantly, it contains day-to-day dress of both genders that is often missing in other notable collections.
In both 2018 and 2019, OmarJoseph Nasser-Khoury, returned to the British Museum to take part in an ITP Knowledge Exchange Fellowship based on the documentation and photography of the Palestinian textile collection. Omar was able to bring together many strands of his own skills and experience to the is project. His specialist academic knowledge in this field; his experience as a maker and designer who understands textiles and dress from a hands-on technical point of view; his understanding of the chemistry of colours and composition of constituent materials and his knowledge in this field from his lived experience in Palestine.
In return, we were able to offer OmarJoseph the opportunity to take part in a five-day formal intensive textile training programme (best practice in handling, storage, display and packing). He also received basic training on how to use MuseumIndex+ to document and register the textiles.
“By examining and studying each garment, I have been able to further familiarise myself with Palestinian textiles, especially in terms of materials and techniques. Patterns are finally emerging and I can now see more of the regional nuances and particularities that I was not already familiar with. Working with objects that I have only read about or seen images of has been an invaluable experience.“
While at the British Museum in 2019, OmarJoseph, alongside Zeina Klink-Hoppe, Phillis Bishop Curator for the Modern Middle East at the British Museum and Felicity Cobbing, Chief Executive and Curator at the Palestine Exploration Society made this insightful and informative film on the collection and what he’s achieved in his time with us.
This project was generously funded by the British Council (Occupied Palestinian Territories), the Marie-Louise von Motesicky Charitable Trust and the Palestine Exploration Fund. And special thanks go to Sian Toogood, AV & Production Manager and Roux Malherbe, Producer, both of the British Museum, for putting this wonderful film together.