Bethlehem Beyond the Wall:

An Exhibition Organized by the Museum of the Palestinian People


Wilmot Library, Nazareth College, Rochester, NY, October 1-14

 Public Opening Reception, October 4th at 4:00 – 6 pm

Reception, October 5th at 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Details to come

Panel Discussion with Curator and Faculty, October 3rd at 12 pm

Conference Call with a Palestinian Family, October 10th at 12 pm


Bethlehem Beyond the Wall, a new travelling exhibition that invites viewers to see a familiar place from a new point of view. Everyone recognizes Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus, few know that the city has a rich modern culture. Throughout history, Bethlehem has been a site of tragedy and struggle and survival. Today the area including Bethlehem and its surrounding villages is home to 100,000 people, the site of three refugee camps, and four generations of refugees. The city is divided by the Wall first erected by the State of Israel in the West Bank in 2002. This exhibition seeks to move beyond both myth and politics to show Bethlehem from the vantage point of view of the men, women and children who lived here the past 150 years.

The exhibition spans 1880 to the present , the era in which photographs of Bethlehem traveled around the world. We draw from photographs which the American Colony Company made between 1880 and 1945 for postcards, stereocards, illustrated books and magazines. We use photojournalism from the past and present, as well as images from family albums and private collections. The years from 1947 through 1949, known as the Nakba, are narrated by individual survivors, interviewed in 2013 for the documentary film Voices Across the Divide. Original art by young painters whose work also appears on the walls that line the streets of Dheishe Refugee Camp. A drone video made over Bethlehem reveals the city and the Wall today.   

Bethlehem Beyond the Wall shows rarely seen views of ordinary life against a background characterized by familiar landmarks as well as relentless change. We recognize the Nativity Church and its surrounding market square, the narrow stone streets through town. Once remote refugee camps, like Dheishe, Aida and Azza, have become part of the modern city.  

The constant state of struggle against a succession of colonial powers — from the Ottoman Empire to the state of Israel today — has produced a resilient culture, rich in tradition and responsive to change. The effect can be seen in the art of the newest generation who turn the walls that surround them into bold celebrations of history, and heroes executed with a distinctive mix of humor, bravery, sincerity and optimism.  

The exhibition material comes from: The Library of Congress (Washington DC), Institute for Palestine Studies (Washington, DC), Voices Beyond the Divide/Alice Rothchild, Bab El Deir Art Gallery, The Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (Arij), The Tent of Nations/Nassar Farm, Highlight Films, Ltd, Nazareth College, Jewish Voice for Peace – Rochester, Center for Cultural Heritage Reservation, Daher and Katy Nassar, Mohammad Ma’ali, Wael Abu Yabes, Ayed Arafah, Elias Halabi, Nihayah Alhaj, David Verberckt, Ryan Rodrick Beiler, Isam Telhami, Margaret Olin. Co-curators are Mary Panzer and Bshara Nassar.

The exhibition includes roughly 100 photographic images organized into discrete sections, 7 paintings (acrylic on canvas), 4 video interviews, and a series of maps to help viewers locate Bethlehem inside shifting political boundaries. A digital poster is ready for download.

The exhibition takes place at the College’s Lorette Wilmot Library Lobby, Oct. 1-14, 7 days a week from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Nazareth College is located at 4245 East Avenue, Rochester, N.Y., 14618.

This exhibition made possible by our founding sponsor the Josephine and Paul Wenger Fund for Peace Through International Understanding of the First Unitarian Church of Rochester.

Additional sponsorship and hosting opportunities are available. For more information contact us at or 202-499-8959.

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