Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Archive's mission statement?
What are your long term goals for the Archive?
The Archive is based in Australia, which is a long way away. How can I visit Archive exhibitions or see actual examples of Palestinian costume?
Where and how can I buy Archive publications, posters and postcards?
Can you recommend a reading list on Palestinian costume and embroidery? And where can we buy these?
Can you recommend a reading list on Palestinian history?
Is there an Archive mailing list?
Can I buy Palestinian dresses and embroideries from the Archive?
I am Palestinian and want to find out about my heritage and what was worn in my village. Can you help me?
I am Palestinian and getting married soon. Can you help me find out about Palestinian wedding rituals and costumes?
I'm not Palestinian but I think the costumes are beautiful. Can I make a research inquiry to the Archive?
I'm a museum studies university student. Can I make research inquiries? And does the Archive take interns?
I have a dress that I think is Palestinian or Middle Eastern. Can you tell me about it? Can you advise me on conservation and value?
My museum is interested in displaying an Archive exhibition. How do we go about this? Are Archive exhibitions available outside Australia?
We would like the Archive to speak at our university, or address our embroidery group, or local school. How do we organise educational programs? What do you charge?
Do you still do your "tupperware" parties, except with Palestinian refugee camp embroidery projects?
I'd like to learn more about Palestinian refugee camp embroidery projects. Can you help?
Can I have a dress made specially for me?
Does the Archive collect costumes other than Palestinian?
I'd like to join a Palestinian solidarity group. Can you recommend any?
I'd like to donate to Palestinian causes or sponsor a Palestinian child. Can you help?
How do I become an Archive Friend?
I would like to donate a Palestinian or Middle Eastern costume. How do I do this?
I would like to make a financial donation. How do I do this?
I'd like to help but don't have any money. What can I do?

 

What is the Archive's mission statement?

We are dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Palestinian and Middle Eastern costume and cultural heritage through long term research projects and publications, a worldwide museum quality travelling exhibition program, and in depth educational and public programs. We also work with over 30 Palestinian refugee camp and village embroidery projects and Middle Eastern women's handicraft projects, promoting their products through our exhibitions and website.

What are your long term goals for the Archive?

The Archive has been set up so that all our collections - costumes, textiles, accessories, jewellery, prints, photographs, posters, postcards and Research Library - will all become part of the National Museum of Palestine, when such an institution becomes secure.

The Archive is based in Australia, which is a long way away. How can I visit Archive exhibitions or see actual examples of Palestinian costume?

These days the world is very small. Archive exhibitions travel worldwide so email us and we can provide you with details of our forthcoming exhibition venues and educational programs. We may also have an Archive Education Officer in your area who can provide educational programs and answer questions.

If you live in Australia you can make an appointment to visit us in Canberra to either see the collection or use the Research Library. If you are too far away to visit us then drop us a line telling us where you live and we can advise you of museums close by you that hold Palestinians costumes, and provide you with a reading list that you can take to your local library. If you are unable access any of these we are more than happy to email you further information, together with scanned images of Palestinian costumes or whatever is of interest to you. You can also purchase copies of Archive publications which illustrate Palestinian costumes in colour.

Where and how can I buy Archive publications, posters and postcards?

Click here to see images of our postcards and details of publications and other printed material. Then just email us and we will advise you of availability and shipping costs. Archive publications include a colour catalogue for the exhibition Portraits without names: Palestinian costume, Exhibition Notes for Portraits without names: Palestinian costume and Secret Splendours: women's costume in the Arab world. Remember, if you become an Archive Friend you receive all our publications and printed material for free. Click here to learn more about our Friends program.

We have forthcoming monographs with two American and European publishers (on Palestinian embroidery, and Palestinian costume and embroidery since 1948) due out in late 2004. Archive research can also be found on our website, and in a variety of international publications, including the Proceedings of the 8th Symposium of the Textile Society of America and the forthcoming Khalat journal. Copies of Archive academic papers, including the paper presented at the First World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies in Germany in September 2002, are available through the Archive.

Can you recommend a reading list on Palestinian costume and embroidery? And where can we buy these?

Books on Palestinian costume and embroidery are fairly thin on the ground, but yes, email us and we can provide a reading list.

Several of the books we recommend can be purchased through the Archive. The Archive also sells other Tareq Rajab Museum publications, including Jehan Rajab's Costumes from the Arab world (2002) and Silver Jewellery of Oman.

Can you recommend a reading list on Palestinian history?

Yes, email us for a detailed reference list and links to Palestinian documents, maps and statistics. Most of the books listed are available in the Archive's Research Library.

Is there an Archive mailing list?

Yes, just email us your details and we will put you on it. You can also join our Friends program and receive our newsletter with information on forthcoming exhibitions and educational programs.

Can I buy Palestinian dresses and embroideries from the Archive?

We hold a small amount of embroidered stock from various projects and can supply you with a list of available products and photographs. However, we prefer to recommend you make your order directly with one of the projects. Click here for information about all the projects, images of products and contact details.

We have several dresses in stock, designed by Palestinian refugees in Jordan, some of whom are now too old to work for various NGO embroidery projects (their embroidery is no longer seen as fine enough for project products). If you would like to see photos of the dresses please email us.

I am Palestinian and want to find out about my heritage and what was worn in my village. Can you help me?

Absolutely. We would be delighted if you would get in touch. Email us details your family's village and we will flood you with information and scanned images of costumes from that region.

I am Palestinian and getting married soon. Can you help me find out about Palestinian wedding rituals and costumes?

We would be honoured to. This is the type of request we get most often and we always love to help. Again, let us know what village or town your family or your fiancée's family is from and we will send you details.

It is also - with enough time - possible to get your wedding dress designed and embroidered in the traditional Palestinian style. Once you know what style of dress you might like, and what type of embroidery, we can put you in touch with several Palestinian refugee camp embroidery projects who both recreate pre 1948 styles and design wonderful modern styles. Wearing something like this will not only make your wedding truly special, but make the occasion very evocative for older members of your family who will greatly appreciate the effort you have gone to, to preserve your family's cultural heritage.

I'm not Palestinian but I think the costumes are beautiful. Can I make a research inquiry to the Archive?

Of course. Let us know how we can help.

I'm a museum studies university student. Can I make research inquiries? And does the Archive take interns?

Yes you can, and yes we take interns - the only problem is you have to get yourself to Australia! Email us for further details of our Intern Program and ask your lecturers to contact us.

I have a dress that I think is Palestinian or Middle Eastern. Can you tell me about it? Can you advise me on conservation and value?

Of course. If you are in Australia you can bring the dress to us, or send it, so that we can examine it and provide identification and dating details. We can also advise on conservation (you can purchase textile archival storage boxes and acid free paper from us) and provide a valuation assessment.

If you can't visit us you can a photo of your dress and email it to us, and we will provide the same service. You can also post your photo to us the Archive at PO Box 98, Lyneham, Canberra, ACT 2602, Australia. Remember to provide as many details as you can about it (eg, where and when you bought it, etc).

My museum is interested in displaying an Archive exhibition. How do we go about this? Are Archive exhibitions available outside Australia?

Our exhibitions tour worldwide on a five year exhibition schedule. Please contact us for exhibition proposals and schedules.

Archive exhibitions currently available include:

Portraits without names: Palestinian costume - featuring 200 years of Palestinian design and examining how traditional costume and embroidery has long reflected the culture and identity of the Palestinian people.

Secret Splendours: women's costume in the Arab world - curated to examine and redress Western misconceptions regarding Arab and Muslim life, and featuring urban, tribal, village and oases traditional costumes from Morocco to Yemen.

Symbolic defiance: Palestinian costume and embroidery since 1948 - documenting the loss and revival of late 20th century Palestinian cultural heritage, featuring rare intifada textiles and political embroideries

Installation images and additional reviews are available through the Archive.

Forthcoming exhibitions on Omani traditional costume, Yemeni dress, Central Asian ikats and embroideries and Islamic Indian costume are also now available for loan.

We would like the Archive to speak at our university, or address our embroidery group, or local school. How do we organise educational programs? What do you charge?

Just email us to check our location and availability. We can also provide you with a list of our various educational and public programs so that you can decide what you would like us to present. These range from half hour children's talks to three hour embroidery seminars, formal academic lectures, film programs and "touch" seminars (where blind children and adults are able to touch actual examples of 19th century Palestinian and Middle Eastern costumes).

We also put up displays in school, libraries etc. These displays are primarily graphic and are designed for smaller venues with lower budgets and security than museums. Topics include children's costume in the Middle East, nationalism in traditional women's costume in the Middle East, Bedouin dress, Veiling, Hijab (Islamic modesty dress) and Tribal embroidery. Please email us for a complete list.

Usually Archive educational and public programs are provided free. However, in some cases we need to claim travel costs if we do not have an Education Officer in your city, so again let us know where you are when you email us.

Do you still do your "tupperware" parties, except with Palestinian refugee camp embroidery projects?

Yes, we do! An Archive staff member or Education Officer will come to your home, give a short talk on Palestinian refugees and the establishment of refugee camp embroidery projects, or show a short film about the projects in the West Bank and Gaza, then open a suitcase full of lovely products for sale. Again, the products we show are really just a small taste of what is available, so we also bring embroidery project catalogues and other illustrations so that people can get an idea of the vast range of items that can be ordered.

I'd like to learn more about Palestinian refugee camp embroidery projects. Can you help?

The Archive works with over 30 Palestinian refugee camp and village embroidery projects and Middle Eastern women's handicraft projects. You can find information about them on our webpage. This page documents the history of each project and gives details of their products and contact addresses. The Archive can also supply catalogues, brochures and other product images from each project, if you are interested in specific items.

We would also like to refer you to a short video about these projects produced in 2000 by Sunbula, a non proft organization working to promote self help craft groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, called "Thread of Hope". This can be purchased online from Sunbula or the Archive, or can be borrowed from the Archive's Research Library.

Details of new projects, how to buy online and recent problems experienced by Palestinian Territory based projects can be found in Archive newsletters at Winter 2002 and Summer 2003.

We would be most grateful if you could bring any projects not listed to our attention so that we can include them on this site.

Can I have a dress made specially for me?

You can indeed. Many of the projects do this, both with traditional pre 1948 styles and more contemporary fashions. Contact us for further details.

Does the Archive collect costumes other than Palestinian?

Yes, we acquire traditional costumes and textiles from all over the Arab world, both historical and contemporary. We also collect hijab (Islamic modesty dress) and are always interested in documenting new styles and fashions brought to our attention.

There is a page on our website that looks at Middle Eastern costume in our collection. Our travelling exhibition Secret Splendours: women's costume in the Arab world was curated to examine and redress Western misconceptions regarding Arab and Muslim life, and features costumes from Morocco to Yemen. Click here for further details of the exhibition. You can also purchase Exhibition Notes of the exhibition and Archive postcards illustrating details Yemeni, Syrian and Egyptian Sinai Desert bedouin dress (click here for details).

I'd like to join a Palestinian solidarity group. Can you recommend any?

There are so many wonderful groups. In Australia Archive staff belong to the Melbourne based Women For Palestine who are doing wonderful work, and the newly formed national organisation Australians For Justice and Peace for Palestinian People (no website yet. Please contact us for further details).

Australians with a conscience might also be interested in the Australians Against Racism group, formed in response to the current refugee crisis. AAR publications (including the newly published Australia IS refugees: winning essays and stories 2002: an Australians Against Racism initiative 2002 (edited by Eva Sallis and Heather Millar) and pins are available through the Archive.

There are also important groups like Women In Black, who are worldwide now. Again, email us your address and we will then provide local support group details. And if there is no local Palestinian solidarity group in your area, perhaps it is time to think of creating one?

I'd like to donate to Palestinian causes or sponsor a Palestinian child. Can you help?

Bless you. Email Hanan at Women For Palestine for information regarding sponsoring a child. Email the Archive for a contact list of organisations who can help you put your donation where it counts the most.

How do I become an Archive Friend?

Click here for further details, then contact us for our Friends joining form

I would like to donate a Palestinian or Middle Eastern costume. How do I do this?

Thank you so much for thinking of our collection for your costume. Please see our Donations/ How can I help? section for further details.

I would like to make a financial donation. How do I do this?

Thank you. We would be honoured to accept your support. Please see our Donations/How can I help? section, as this outlines how funds are likely to be utilised, and how to send donations to us.

I'd like to help but don't have any money. What can I do?

That's all right, we don't have any money either!

There are lots of ways you can help. Have a look in our Donations/Can I help? section, which is full of ideas, including training as an Archive Education Officer, offering volunteer time to work at the Archive in Canberra, lending us your research skills or conservator skills, or language skills, to help us translate Archive publications and educational/public programs into other languages. You might also be interested in organising a fund raising function for the Archive. Whatever you decide, we would love your help!