SAWA Museum Studies Program is the first non-discriminatory and diversity-oriented educational program for professionals in an early stage of their museum career residing in Arabic-speaking countries and Europe.
In Arabic SAWA means together. This name was chosen to shed light on the philosophy and structure of this Museum Studies Program: Facilitators and participants come in equal parts from Arabic-speaking countries and Europe. Modules are led by a team of two museum experts from the UAE and from Europe. Each year a new group is chosen to consist in equal parts of people passionate about museums from the UAE, the MENA region and Europe who are at the beginning of their careers.
With a critical view on the museum definition the curriculum is jointly and continuously developed further by all facilitators in order to meet the needs of a diverse group of participants, operating in different fields of the museum.
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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.