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Khalil Rabah – The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind

Artist Khalil Rabah was born in Jerusalem and lives in Ramallah. He studied at the University of Texas, taught architecture at Birzeit University, and art at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem from 1997 to 2000. Rabah is a cofounder of the Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art in Jerusalem and the ArtSchool Palestine in London. His project, The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind, which was initiated around 2005 – similar to the fictional archives of the Atlas Group by Walid Ra’ad from Lebanon or Meschac Gaba from Benin’s Museum of Contemporary African Art – thematizes the non-existence of museums, which would be able to present the natural and human history of the respective country, and questions the constructions of reality and history postulated by various existing museums, thus making visible the non-thematizing of Palestine. There have been plans to build a real Palestine Museum since 1997, and in April 2012 the foundation stone was laid; the first construction phase is scheduled for completion in 2015. In 2007 there were concrete plans for a national archaeological museum in Gaza under the patronage of UNESCO, which was presented at an exhibition held in the Musée d’art et d’histoire in Geneva. However, the Israeli campaign of 2008 titled Cast Lead put an end to any further steps towards its realization.