Alas, is today similar to yesterday? Despair, sickness, and foreignness. Will my tomorrow be just like my yesterday? - Haifa Al Habeeb, Portland
It’s strange how happy this makes me feel. - Zaid Aljebori, Dearborn
Studying for a future that will never come. - Zaid Aljebori, Dearborn
The wedding video I never got to watch. The father I’ll never meet. - Zaid Aljebori, Dearborn
Keynote Presentation for NCPH
According to the Institute for Museum and Library Services,
there are over 35,000 active museums in the United States,
a doubling from the number estimated in the 1990s.
There is only one museum focused on
Arab American history and culture.
A Singular Institution
VISION: A united Arab American community engaged in and inspired by its
MISSION: The Arab American National Museum documents, preserves and
presents the history, culture and contributions of Arab Americans.
“People give us meaning and purpose.
Relationships are our foundation.
We desire community empowerment and ownership.
To do this, we have found the following:
The work is labor intensive.
The work requires flexibility.
We willingly relinquish control.”
– Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience
• To further educational and public programs.
• To dispel stereotypes and misconceptions.
• To meet rapid growth and increased demands.
• To document, preserve and celebrate Arab
American history and culture.
Building A National Museum
• What kind of museum and who would it be for?
• Fear of reinforcing stereotypes or “outsider image.”
• How to best reflect the diversity of the community.
• The question of representation.
• Constructing an Arab American identity.
• Assess the (national) community’s support for a museum.
• Create a Museum Task Force for guidance and fundraising.
• Build upon established relationships.
• Work with regional committees throughout the country.
• Build a consensus and respond to the community.
A “Democratic Grassroots” Approach
• Utilize personal stories that reflect the diversity
of the Arab American community.
• Stress the similarities of the immigrant story
common to all ethnic communities.
• Employ empathy and personal connections to
bridge cultural gaps.
Telling Our Story
“Gov. Rick Snyder's announcement Sunday that he
would back off — at least temporarily — from an
effort to relocate Syrian refugees in Michigan set
off a wave of even stronger opposition by
governors across the U.S. on Monday, with several
saying they would reject outright any attempts to
resettle Syrians in their states.”
Spangler, Todd, Paul Egan, and Niraj Warikoo. "Snyder Change on Syrian Refugees Leads
More Opposition." Detroit Free Press. 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.
“Dearborn has become a flashpoint for many
people in America. Anti-Islam protestors carrying
weapons have rallied in the city. The Arab
American National Museum has responded by
inviting people to better understand the city
“"Yalla Eat!" food tour offers taste of Arab American culture in Dearborn.”
Stateside. Michigan Radio, Ann Arbor, MI. 12 May 2016.
• Community empowerment and ownership through
participation and co-creation.
• Foster a safe environment for sharing experiences
and expressing ideas.
• Be timely and responsive.
• Present history to the public in innovative ways.
• Develop immersive educational opportunities for
people to engage with history.
Employing a Community-Based Approach
Director | Arab American National Museum