Renewing the University of Jordan’s National Heritage Museum

May 29, 2022

The University of Jordan’s National Heritage Museum. (Photo by Abed Al Fattah Ghareeb.)

The University of Jordan is the country’s largest and oldest institution of higher education, offering a wide range of academic programs and a diverse environment. The university devotes particular attention to preserving, protecting, and presenting Jordan’s heritage visually. This includes through its National Heritage Museum, founded in 1986 to reflect the lifestyles of Jordanians who lived in villages and deserts throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The American Center of Research has always worked with the University of Jordan to help preserve Jordan’s heritage. As part of this collaboration, the American Center supported the recent renovation of the National Heritage Museum, located on the university campus. Standards and technology for museum displays have changed over the decades, and because both the American Center and the University of Jordan keep abreast of developments in museology, they initiated a project to bring the museum up to date. The external and internal infrastructure of the building, along with the museum environment, would be enhanced, display and interpretation of the collection would be modernized, and the museum’s objects would be digitized. All these goals were achieved through a 2021 grant from the American Center of Research’s USAID-funded Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities Project (SCHEP).

The funding and technical support that the American Center’s USAID SCHEP provided began with demolition and construction, followed by restructuring the exhibition spaces, improving the electrical, lighting, and sound systems, installing monitoring devices for temperature and humidity control, renewing the external facade of the museum, and painting. New display spaces and sections were added—such as one for agriculture—and each section was dedicated to a specific theme. All of the display cabinets and the display tent were redone, and new traditional costumes were purchased.

Support from the grant also offered university students internship opportunities within a capacity-building program that digitized the museum’s collection. This program included the registration of all artifacts and other objects in the museum. In turn, this documentation led to the creation of a comprehensive database for the museum of all its holdings.

The student interns and curators worked together to develop the displays by applying current interpretations of the objects and themes and by using up-to-date technology to provide interactive exhibits. This includes high-quality videos and photographs.

At the University of Jordan’s National Heritage Museum, an educational tool for the campus has been re-created, targeting students and also open to the public. The American Center of Research is proud to have contributed to the museum’s renovation and to serve in the sharing of knowledge with students and others, supporting the continuing narrative of Jordan’s heritage.

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