The museum was officially founded in AH 1341 / AD 1922. In AH 1348 / AD 1929, it was transferred to its present site in the southwestern corner of the Haram al-Sharif. The museum is administered through the Islamic Awqaf Department in Jerusalem, under the auspices of the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf.
The museum comprises three buildings with an exhibition space of over 1,000 square m.
The oldest hall is from the AH 6th / AD 12th century and is a rare Crusader monument in the Holy City. The second hall was an Ayyubid mosque (AH 7th / AD 13th century) historically known as al-Malikiya mosque or the Jami’a al-Mughariba. The third hall is known as the al-Fakhriya corner and its history goes back to the Mamluk period (AH 8th / AD 14th century).
The collection consists of artefacts and remains from the Islamic and non-Islamic epochs, representing various facets of Islamic civilisation ranging in geography, theme and period. Most of the artefacts represent the heritage of the Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem and Palestine at large including cities such as Hebron and Nablus.
The museum contains woodwork from different Islamic eras, the oldest dating to the Umayyad period. Metalwork includes an iron grill from Crusader times, candlesticks, swords, daggers, daises, incense burners, coins, rings and memorial pieces. The collection includes marble from the lower parts of the octagonal walls of the Dome of the Rock and coloured tiles dating from the renovations of the Ottoman period. There is a collection of inscriptions on stone from different Islamic periods and from before the Islamic era, and columns and capitals from the Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods. There is a valuable collection of Qur’ans, the oldest from the AH 3rd / AD 9 th century, and some 1,000 Mamluk documents whose themes deal with social and economic life in the holy city. The museum displays part of its textile collection, with costumes, grave coverings and pieces from the kiswa (covering) of the Ka’ba; there are many carpets not on display.
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