June 8, 2022
The American Center of Research and the University of Jordan opened the university’s renewed National Heritage Museum, located on the campus in Amman, with a ceremony held on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Some 100 people attended this celebration of the museum’s recent renovation, which focused on bringing it up to date with current developments in museology. The museum’s emphasis on preserving, protecting, and visually presenting Jordan’s heritage received particular attention.
The National Heritage Museum was founded in 1986 to educate university students and the public about the lifeways of Jordanians who lived in villages and deserts throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. By 2021, it was evident that enhancement of the building’s infrastructure and the museum environment, modernization of the display interpretations, and digitization of the collection were necessary for the museum to continue to fulfill its mission in the 21st century. Thus, the university applied for a grant from the American Center of Research’s USAID-funded Sustainable Cultural Heritage Through Engagement of Local Communities Project (SCHEP). SCHEP awards these grants to local enterprises and other initiatives that seek to preserve Jordan’s cultural heritage, and the project proposed for the National Heritage Museum offered to fulfill the three necessary components: sustainability, innovation, and continuous development through education.
The work undertaken with financial and technical support provided by the grant restructured the exhibition spaces, improved the electrical, lighting, and sound systems, installed monitoring devices for temperature and humidity control, renewed the external facade of the building, added a new coat of paint, added new display spaces and themed sections (such as one for agriculture), remade the display cabinets, and purchased new traditional costumes.
During the June 8 celebration, many accomplishments realized through the grant were highlighted, such the internship opportunities offered to university students within a capacity-building program that digitized the 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 and all of its holdings. The student interns and curators worked together to redevelop the displays by applying current interpretations of the objects and themes and by using up-to-date technology, including high-quality videos and photographs, to create interactive exhibits.
Through renovation of the University of Jordan’s National Heritage Museum and many other projects undertaken throughout the country over the last eight years, the American Center of Research’s USAID-SCHEP has notably changed the approach of community engagement in heritage preservation. This has resulted in outstanding development of archaeological sites, capacity-building for local organizations, opportunities for women and young people in local communities, and community-based tourism promotion.