Throughout its history as a leading academic institution in the West Bank, Birzeit University has keenly supported the promotion of the arts. The Virtual Gallery at Birzeit University, is a pioneering, new initiative whose central objective is exposure to art and culture through the internet. It is a specialized website for contemporary visual art which provides academic and educational courses on contemporary visual art in general and Palestinian art in particular using latest developments in E-Learning and web technology. The site is divided into four sections: Education, Community, Exhibitions and The BZU Museum.

With this new venture The Virtual Gallery aims to advance understanding of the visual arts, to inspire the new generation and foster dialogue between Palestinians themselves and the rest of the world. Exposure to the creative practices of different cultures across the globe and in various historical periods assists in fostering an understanding of diversity and the very different ways the world around us can and has been interpreted by artists and creative people. Both the uniqueness and common ground that can be found in the visual arts stimulates creativity and cultural awareness. Furthermore, the visual arts play a major role in the development of societies, in particular its different forms of representation and its aesthetics and have an effect on all aspects of the visual culture of a community.

In Palestine, however, as a consequence of the siege of recent years and the confinement of Palestinians to their towns and villages a situation has been created in which Palestinian individuals and communities are severely isolated from one another and the rest of the world. This situation has been intensified with the building of the partition wall. The results of a continually unsettled political situation has been that Palestinian children, students and the general public have had little chance to practice their lives normally, let alone receive exposure to arts and culture. In light of the continuing political situation the internet becomes an exciting and essential tool in acquiring and disseminating information and for creating bridges between peoples. With extensive internet access now available at Birzeit University and in the Palestinian community a new gateway is available, one that transcends physical borders.

The Virtual Gallery at Birzeit University is a specialized website for the visual arts and its work will comprise of the following areas:

  1. Academic courses on Palestinian art, Arab and contemporary international art for university students using E-learning systems and distance learning.
  2. On-line library of Palestinian art containing, articles, images and video works and archive of Birzeit University ethnographic and art collection.
  3. Artist residency programs for artists to work with University students and the general public using the internet as a medium for creativity.
  4. Community outreach programs focusing on exposure to local, Arab and international visual arts for different sectors of the Palestinian community, children, youth, and those in continuing education.
  5. Forum for dialogue and debate on contemporary art issues through discussion room.
  6. Profiles of artists and community projects related to the visual arts.
  7. Previews of exhibitions, talks and seminars.
  8. Virtual arttours and visits to artists' studios.
  9. Up to date Information on events art and cultural events in Palestine and abroad.

The central aims of The Virtual Gallery at Birzeit University are:

Gateway: The virtual gallery will be a dynamic gateway to the arts to the Birzeit University community and the Palestinian community at large. It will function as both a “virtual” and a “physical” space where people everywhere can see and learn more about Palestinian art and artists. The gallery will provide an opportunity for Palestinians to view art events in Palestine and serve as a new gateway for Palestinians to the exciting events, debates and changes in the international art world.

Exposure: The virtual gallery will provide exposure to Palestinian art and contemporary international art through its new academic courses both for university students and educational courses for different sectors of the Palestinian community. Its monthly profiles, its events and exhibition series, its virtual tours along with the unique on line library of Palestinian art have all been established to create versatile access to information on the visual arts.

Dialogue: The virtual gallery will be a platform for dialogue to serve the Palestinian community to counter the internal separation which hampers exchange. It will be a dynamic site that will provide opportunities for the creation of new dialogues for Palestinians with artists, local art and cultural organizations, art institutions in neighbouring countries and art establishments around the world.

Diversity: The virtual gallery aims to promote creative diversity and cultural awareness through its different programs and activities. Its artist residency program will invite Palestinian and international artists to create new art works and work with students and community in outreach program. While its courses will profile histories, trends and debates in local, regional and international contemporary art. Our coverage of exhibitions, artists and community projects are all intended to expose the Birzeit community and Palestinian community to the dynamism of the visual arts.

The Virtual Gallery at Birzeit University has been generously supported by The Palestine Telephone Communications Company (Paltel).