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Sharjah Museums Authority to host international students and museum professionals for fourth edition of SAWA Museum Academy

September 23, 2018
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Sharjah Museums Authority to host international students and museum professionals for fourth edition of SAWA Museum Academy

Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) is preparing to welcome international students and young museum professionals from the Middle East and Germany to participate in the annual SAWA Museum Academy cross-cultural exchange programme.

Each year, SMA invites a group of young professionals to Sharjah to work alongside its team of experts and museum staff. The students will learn about the operation of SMA’s 16 museums while receiving training in the fundamental skills of museum management before traveling to Germany at a later date to continue their studies in Berlin.

Three participants from the UAE, 8 from Germany, 1 from Oman, 2 from Palestine, 1 from Jordan and 1 from Egypt will be hosted by SMA from September 16 to 26 during the opening stage of the SAWA Museum Academy course for 2018/19.

The 10-day multicultural project is part of a long-running collaboration between SMA and the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region and the University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin), with the support of the Staatliche Museen Berlin – Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz.

The initiative is part of SMA’s ongoing work to ‘bridge’ the cultural and knowledge divide between museums in Europe, the Middle East, and around the world through regular collaborative events.

The SAWA (which means ‘Together’ in Arabic) Museum Academy is designed to bring together students of museum studies and the next generation of young museum professionals from the Arab region and from Germany.

Launched in 2015, it has been successful in attracting young professionals from a variety of cultural and social backgrounds to learn from each other’s experiences and expertise as well as exchanging knowledge, values and developing a network of contacts and lasting friendships.

Last year’s SAWA Museum Academy saw participants from the UAE, Germany, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt and Palestine study in Sharjah in September 2017 before traveling to Berlin in May 2018.

Now in its fourth edition, participants in this year’s SAWA Museum Academy will study four main modules during their time in Sharjah. These include; Museology, Collecting and Documenting, Curating, and Museum Communication.

During their time with SMA, the students will learn about the history of the Arabian Peninsula, how to adapt a museum’s offering to local and international perspectives and how to develop strategies for curating exhibits.

In June 2019, the group of 15 specially selected young professionals will travel to Berlin for the next stage of the course where they will continue their studies into the essential areas of museum management and museology.

The curriculum for second stage will feature the modules: Museum Management, Visitor Programmes, and Restoring and Conserving.

By establishing closer ties with staff and experts working in museums overseas, SMA is able to take an active role in international exhibits and attract major events to Sharjah.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, said: “We are delighted to welcome the latest group of international students and museum professionals to Sharjah to participate in this year’s SAWA Museum Academy.

“SAWA creates a unique environment which is stimulating and encourages a multicultural learning experience. SMA’s initiative “SAWA” is vital in laying the foundations for a long-term exchange of ideas and long term cross cultural collaborations in the future.”

Fareed Majari, director of the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, said: “SAWA was created to promote mutual learning and shared experiences between museums, peoples and nations.

“It was a pioneering idea when it was launched. Now in its fourth edition, I am proud that the SAWA Museum Academy has gone from strength to strength and continues to achieve its goals with each new intake of Arab and German students.”

Gundula Avenarius, organizational manager of SAWA at the University of Applied Science Berlin, said: “The SAWA Museum Academy has been created by museum experts to encourage a culture of cooperation between staff and institutions.

By learning first-hand how staff at Sharjah Museums Authority and their colleagues in Berlin operate, the students and professionals are exposed to essential, hands-on experiences in the workplace that will benefit them throughout their careers.”

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