Accepted Paper:

Art, artefacts and art production at the Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth (Safi, Jordan): decision making, contexts, realities and prospects  
Georgios Papaioannou (University College London (UCL))Konstantinos Politis (Hellenic Society for Near Eastern Studies)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the various roles and aspects of works of local art (ancient and traditional) at the recently inaugurated 'Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth' (MuLPE) at Safi, Jordan, and its wider society as well as their contribution to local economic and social change and development.

Paper long abstract:

The Museum at the Lowest Place on Earth (MuLPE) is located at the south-eastern end of the Dead Sea in Safi, Jordan,, at 400 metres below sea level, the lowest place on the earth's surface. The museum was built between 2004-2007, it formally opened in 2012 and is an example of a site museum with a global appeal. It is also a model for local heritage identity with a sustainable income-generating factor, since the region of the Ghor as-Safi is a relatively underprivileged community but has rich cultural heritage which only recently has been appreciated. The museum has themes ranging from geography and environment to ancient art and technologies, conservation and local traditions, including art. The exhibition is frequently updated with newly excavated finds, artworks and information panels. Regular educational programmes are held for local school groups and the wider community. A café,

Furthermore, a museum shop is managed by the Womens' Association of Safi (WAS) with unique art and commercial (souvenir) products of their own making, inspired by artefacts and narratives exhibited at MuLPE. This endeavour was supported by the UNESCO and turned into a profitable enterprise by the WAS which has attracted worldwide attention and, together with the recently open and locally-run café, has created a home-grown cultural and entrepreneurial intuition.

This paper focuses on the various roles and aspects of works of local art (ancient and traditional) at MuLPE and its wider society as well as their contribution to local economic and social change and development.

Panel P030
Art and History Museums in the Middle East as places of social and political production