Wedad Boutagy, a member of the Sydney Palestinian community, stands in front of an exhibition exhibition graphic showing her in a Jerusalem studio photograph as a young woman, at the opening night of the Archive's travelling exhibition "Portraits without names: Palestinian costume" at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 1996.

Other services offered by the Archive

Research and collection enquiries

Costume and library collection loans and donations/financial donations

Archive Friends program and newsletter/publications

Mailing list

Exhibitions, displays and educational/public programs

Palestinian refugee camp embroidery project products for sale

 Research and collection enquiries

We are happy to provide further information about both the Archive and Palestinian costume and textile matters. Please telephone or fax us on 61 2 62480114, or e-mail us.

The Archive is pleased to offer a gratis service identifying and dating any Palestinian and Middle Eastern costumes and textiles brought to our attention. We can also refer you to the best textile conservators if you have textiles in need of help and assist with valuation assessments.

"thank you so much for your wonderful work [at] the Palestine Costume Archive, and for sending the information and photos...especially the one of the Beitunia "women at the well" ceremony.  My mom was so happy to find her aunt in that group of women"  Aida Hasan, California, 2001

If you are Palestinian and would like to know more about your specific regional dress, we can point you in the right direction to find museum examples, as well as providing photos and documentation. If you would like to purchase either traditional or modern Palestinian designs we can advise on availability and give you a rough estimate of price.  If you would like to get a pre 1948 dress copied, from either a photograph or an original garment, by one of the refugee camp embroidery projects we can also advise on this, let you know some details in advance that will help (for example, what the back of the dress should be embroidered with, if your photo shows only one side!  Or how to find base fabrics and silk threads that will imitate pre 1948 styles) and put you in touch with projects that are happy to work on this kind of commission.  You will find questions about these points in our FAQ section.

If you would like to study any of the costumes held in the collection, or use our reference library, please contact us to make an appointment. If you can not visit us in Canberra but would like to borrow any books or journals, this can be arranged (for a list of our holdings see our Palestinian material culture Bibliography ). If you would like to obtain your own copies of publications relating to Palestinian costume and culture, we can put you in touch with relevant publishing houses or antiquarian book dealers who stock Middle Eastern subjects. Some recent publications are available for sale through the Archive (please contact us for further details).

Costume and library collection loans and donations/financial donations

If you would like to donate or lend a costume or publication we would be most grateful. The Archive also offers a Long Term Loan program for those who want to hold on to their beloved pieces but want those pieces to be where they can do the most good.  Donors and long term lenders receive free copies of all our publications and newsletters, as well as a "thank you" gift (usually an embroidered item from one of the Palestinian refugee camp embroidery projects that the Archive supports).  Please see our Donations/how to help and FAQ pages for further details.

Costumes and textiles from our collection can be made available for loan (subject to availability) for inclusion in exhibitions and displays organised by other museums. We do not charge loan fees for specific loans but do expect transport, conservation and insurance costs to be covered. Please note that our rarer pieces require a courier. Publications held in our library (including 19th century books and first editions) are also available for loan to other institutions. Please contact the Archive for cataloguing details of our costume collection and refer to the Bibliography on this site for the holdings of our library

Archive Friends program and newsletter/publications

The Archive is a non profit research centre with no regular or formal funding.  We run our worldwide educational programs, exhibitions and research projects on donations, monies from the sale of our publications and refugee camp project products and Archive Friends fees.  Our Friends program is a very popular one, with new Friends receiving all Archive publications free, together with many other services, including our Newsletter, which is sent out quarterly and includes details of forthcoming exhibition and display venues, and details of new acquisitions to the library and costume collection. For further details of our Friends program, and how to join, click here.  For how to help the Archive in other ways see our Donations/how to help section.

Mailing list

If you would like to be on our emailing list please forward your e-mail address to us.

If you would like to receive Archive mail-outs, Newsletters, exhibition opening invitations, free exhibition passes, educational and public program details and VIP tickets, VIP only exhibition public tours and lectures, borrow books from our Research Library, etc, please join our Archive Friends program.

Exhibitions, displays and educational/public programs

Symbolic defiance: Palestinian costume and embroidery since 1948 travelling exhibition installation, showing intifada textiles designed by the ANAT Workshop, Yarmouk Refugee Camp, Syria, displayed at the First World Congress of Middle Eastern Studies, Mainz, Germany, 2002 (courtesy: Jeni Allenby)

Archive director Jeni Allenby dressing school children in traditional Palestinian costume as part of the educational program run by the British Museum's Museum of Mankind during their "Palestinian costume" exhibition curated by Shelagh Weir, London 1990 (Sonia Nimr)

The Archive currently has five museum quality exhibitions touring worldwide. For detailed information on Archive exhibitions available for loan click here. The Archive will provide further details, formal Exhibition Proposals, reviews and installation photos of our exhibitions upon request.

Our exhibitions are designed not only for museums and galleries but also for libraries and schools, with smaller displays for low budget and low security venues.  We also curate exhibits to be displayed for much shorter periods, such as a day or a week, for conferences, etc. These include some original costume material but are mainly composed of documentary graphic images and extended wall texts and do not require security. They are available on a variety of subjects, including Palestinian costume, Bedouin costume, Arab women’s costume, Arab nationalism in costume, Middle Eastern wedding rituals, Bedouin daily life, The Reality of Middle Eastern dancing and Children’s costume in the Middle East. If you have a topic in mind we are happy to design a display to your specifications.

All Archive exhibitions are accompanied by educational and public programs, however other educational programs are also available.  The Archive holds educational programs worldwide via our dedicated overseas staff and volunteer Educational Officers.  If you would like information on how to train as an Educational Officer, or could volunteer your time in other ways see our Donations/how to help page and/or email us.  

IMAGE: Archive Exhibition Officer Reeda Kassis with Terry Measham, Director of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, at the opening of "Portraits without names: Palestinian costume" at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 1996 (Powerhouse Museum)

Archive staff and Educational Officers are available to visit schools and universities to lecture on Palestinian and Middle Eastern costume and textile traditions. We are happy to organise seminars and workshops tailored to individual institutions. We arrange half day "hands on" workshops for special interest groups, such as embroidery or weaving specialists, providing costumes from our study collection that can be touched and examined closely. For details of our current schedules please contact us.

You can read more about our educational programs in our FAQ, Archive background and Archive exhibition sections.

Palestinian refugee camp embroidery project products for sale

The Archive acts as an outlet for Palestinian embroidered products produced by over thirty refugee camp and village embroidery and weaving projects, and other Middle Eastern women's self help handicraft projects - although we like to encourage you to forward your order requests direct to the project involved. Click here for our page on refugee camp projects, and here for details of current problems facing many of these projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

Several American museums are now stocking Palestinian refugee camp embroidery products in their shops, including the Textile Museum in Washington DC and the International Museum of Folk Art in Santa Fe.  For a more detailed list, or if your museum shop would like to learn more of these products, please contact us.

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Cover of Palestinian Heritage Foundation Video "Palestinian National Costume: preserving the heritage".
The Archive stocks a variety of embroidered items from the Benevolent Society of the Holy Land, Sunbula, Sulafa, al Badia, Jordan River Designs, Jordan Design and Trade Center, and the Palestine Red Crescent Society amongst others. We usually have in stock a selection of small and large embroidered cushions, eyeglass holders, bags, tablecloths, hand towels, cosmetic purses and dolls in traditional Palestinian and Jordanian costume, as well as larger one off items such as wall hangings and contemporary thobs.  We occasionally have pre 1948 material on consignment from Jerusalem dealers.   We can refer you to excellent Internet sites for acquiring other Palestinian products, such as olive wood pieces, Hebron glass, ceramic tiles from Jerusalem, mother-of-pearl inlay work, etc.  Frankincense and perfumed wood for burning from Oman, soap from Hebron and Aleppo, pure perfumes (rose, amber and sandalwood), silks from Syria, woven scarves from Egypt, and sweets and spices from the Gulf region and Damascus are also currently in stock. 

We also have available for sale Archive exhibition postcards and publications, refugee camp embroidery project postcards, postcards from the Palestinian Heritage Center in Bethlehem, and lovely enlarged photographs of pre1948 Palestinian costume and a video on Palestinian costume and embroidery produced by the Palestinian Heritage Foundation in the USA, which we highly recommend.  We also hold several copies of "Thread of Hope", a 15 minute video made by Sunbula in Jerusalem, about West Bank and Gaza Strip refugee camp embroidery projects in 2000.  

Please contact us for a detailed price list of items currently in stock.

FAQ             Archive background            Donations/how can you help?         Archive exhibitions        Archive publications

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