Connecticut has welcomed the nation’s first Palestinian art museum on Litchfield Turnpike. The 371-square-metre space, which occupies the ground floor of an office building, is the initiative of Faisal Saleh, a Palestinian entrepreneur. Motivated by a desire to celebrate Palestine’s cultural heritage and contemporary production, Palestine Museum US was conceptualised only in June 2017. It is also a reaction to the growing needs of US-based Palestinians for a space to exhibit their works without repercussions, exemplified by the Made in Palestine exhibition in 2003 at Station Museum of Contemporary Art which was met by controversy as US political figures claimed it glorified terrorism.
Aiming to function as a collecting institution with permanent and rotating apolitical shows, it currently features a programme of exhibitions to celebrate Palestinian heritage that span historical through to contemporary works. Initial highlights include the current show, which opened on 22 April, featuring 20 artists who currently reside in the West Bank, such as Ayed Arafah, Samia Halaby, Mohamed Saleh Khalil and Malak Mattar.
Though Palestine Museum US just opened, Saleh already plans to relocate the currently self-funded museum to a larger city and venue once financial backers are secured. In the meanwhile, it invites the public to learn about Palestinian art first hand and bring it to the fore. “The Palestinians are our first audience,” said Saleh to Palestine in America. “Whether they are in the US, or in Palestine, or in the diaspora, we want the Palestinians to have a place that they feel is their own, and that they can be proud of, and they can see it as a Palestinian institution that is excelling at showcasing the Palestinian arts.”