Art academy opens in Ramallah

October 2007 -

The artist and project leader at the Norwegian Art Academy (KhiO), Mr. Henrik Placht, has gained an important role in the Palestinian Arts sector. Three years ago a group of concerned artists and art practitioners founded the Palestinian Association for Contemporary Art – PACA. In cooperation with the Norwegian Art Academy they wanted to realize a Palestine Art academy. Another issue was a National Art Museum.


On the 10th of September 2007 the International Academy of Art Palestine was a fact, and the first thirteen students could attend their first lecture at the bachelor course of fine arts in Ramallah. Students were recruited based on a week long entrance examination at the academy, located in the renovated premises in El Bireh. This former home of the Palestinian historian Aref Al Aref also served as an art gallery twenty years ago.

The International Academy of Art Palestine has secured funding for three years from the Norwegian government (1,5m usd$) and the Norwegian Art Academy. It is the first independent degree-awarding art institute in Palestine, and focuses on contemporary visual art across a range of disciplines. Art courses are also available at three Palestinian universities, but their aim is to train high school teachers and they focus on traditional Arabic art.

Another challenge for Mr. Placht is to assist in the foundation of a Palestinian national museum of arts. The lawyer Mazen Qupty from Jerusalem has the most extensive collection of fine Palestine arts, and has decided to donate this private collection for the establishment of a national museum. The collection consists of 150 objects, mostly paintings, and about forty artists are represented.

To Norwegian Radio (NRK) Henrik Placht said that this is a Palestinian dream that has come closer. But there are hurdles to pass. The question of localisation, Jerusalem or Ramallah, is one of them. Funding and professional staffing are another two.