The American Center of Research is celebrating International Museum Day (May 18) throughout this week. This year’s theme is “Museums, Sustainability, and Well-being,” with the goal of supporting climate action, fostering inclusivity, and improving mental health.
Throughout our history, which stretches more than half a century, ACOR has partnered with museums in Jordan to support their mission to present the country’s history and culture to diverse audiences. Most recently, Ihab Amarin, director general of the Jordan Museum and chair of the Jordanian Museums Association, presented “The Jordan Museum: More than 10,000 Years of Human Resilience,” a lecture now available on our YouTube channel.
With the goal of providing public access to ACOR’s archival holdings, two Title VI grants from the U.S. Department of Education (2016–2020, 2020–2024) have funded the digitization of photographic prints, negatives, and slides, as well as video and audio cassettes, in our collection. To date, we have made 61,616 items available in our online digital archive, documenting archaeological sites and excavations, architecture, and daily life in Jordan and the wider region.
Unsurprisingly, given the academic and archaeological bent of our archival donors, around one thousand of these photos were taken in museums across the region, documenting their collections and architecture at various points in time.
Highlights include Rami Khouri’s documentation of Beit Rousan, which houses the Umm Qais Museum in Umm Qais, Jordan, and Barbara A. Porter’s trip to the Hatay Archaeology Museum in Antakya, Turkey, which was, sadly, damaged in the devastating February 2023 earthquake. She also thoroughly documented the treasures of the Bardo Museum in Tunis, Tunisia.
Providing access to collections is a key duty of such cultural institutions; the purpose of collecting and preserving items is to facilitate their use in research—and to allow visitors to enjoy them. With the advent of the internet and digital collection platforms, museums around the world have made significant parts of their holdings available online, often with few, if any, restrictions. This allows those who are unable to visit in person to view selections from leading museums around the world. Some large online collections include those of the: