SAWA Museum Studies Program is the first non-discriminatory and diversity-oriented museum educational program for young professionals in Arabic-speaking countries and Germany. In Arabic sawa means together. This name was chosen to shed light on the structure of this exchange program through Museum Studies: the lectures are carried out by experts and attended by participants from Arabic-speaking countries and Germany together in equal parts. A museum expert from the UAE and a museum expert from Europe lead the group of participants, as well composed in equal parts by young museum experts from the UAE, the MENA region and from Berlin. In addition, the curriculum is developed jointly by both experts to meet the needs of all participants, who operate in very different contexts. The program is divided in two stages: an up to ten days visit to Sharjah and a corresponding same length visit to Berlin.
The aim of the program is to increase the knowledge and competences of the participants regarding two aspects: to better adapt museology to local conditions and at the same time to practice a dialogue based on the similarities and differences of all participants and teachers. That is the reason why the academic program starts with a non-discriminatory diversity training and a joint reflection on the history and the role of museums in both respective societies. SAWA’s purpose is to increase awareness of discrimination and privilege on both sides, to attract new visitors, and to broaden perspectives for one’s practice. Together participants and lecturers analyze the challenges that museums in Oman, Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, Germany or the UAE are currently facing and which questions they are dealing with.
Appropriate museology is for the SAWA Museum Academy the core topic. It is a bottom-up community-based approach to museum development and training that understands that museum practices and strategies have to correspond to local cultural contexts and conditions.
For SAWA Museum Academy it is absolutely imperative that museums as public institutions reflect on prejudice and discrimination. Participants and lecturers work consciously to deconstruct own prejudices and develop discrimination-critical strategies for a new and appropriate museum practice.
In SAWA Museum Academy diversity serves as a leitmotif in creating a space were participants share their common professional experience while at the same time they learn to accept a maximum of cultural differences and the state of being diverse.
Learning together impacts the ways participants of the SAWA Museum Academy work in museums, present objects, provide information, and engage with visitors. Longterm learning outcomes reflect why SAWA Museum Academy is so unique.
SAWA Museum Academy is a cooperation between
The project was funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung from 2016 until 2021.
Since 2021 the project is funded by the German Federal Foreign office and the Sharjah Museum Authority with kind support of the Goethe-Institut.