Sharjah, 19 September 2015: Sharjah Museums Department, Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, Staatliche Museen Berlin – Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz and University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin) launch the first ever cross-cultural SAWA Summer School for students of museum studies and young museum professionals in the Gulf.
Building on a unique concept, SAWA, which means TOGETHER, welcomes eight German and eight Emirati participants interested in museum management and museology to study together and at the same time learn from each others’ experience or expertise. In the same cross-cultural spirit, the SAWA Summer School, which will run from September 6thto September 17th, is also taught jointly by German and Emirates-based experts. Its first edition, entitled “BAIT, DAR, MARKAZ, MATHAF – INTRODUCTORY COURSE IN CULTURALLY APPROPRIATE MUSEUM STUDIES” is hosted by Sharjah Museums Department and takes place at the Museum of Islamic Civilization in the Emirate of Sharjah.
“SAWA is dedicated to exchange experience and ideas in appropriate museum studies across continents and cultures and to encourage mutual learning,” explains Dr Gabriele Landwehr, executive director of the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region. Manal Ataya, Director General of SMD, added“The Sawa Summer School is the latest in SMD’s ongoing collaboration with Berlin State Museums and the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, and starting with SAWA this year, we hope to establish a continuous program of summer schools based both in Sharjah and in Berlin.” Regarding the content and ethos of the SAWA Summer School, Dr. Susan Kamel, who teaches Museum Studies at the HTW Berlin and is the academic programmer of the summer school, explains, “Seven modules will address areas of appropriate museum studies such as the question what is understood as a ‘museum’, collection management, museum conservation, curating, education as well as marketing and in addition the history of the Arabian Peninsula.” “We brought experts of the various fields together – practitioners and academics – to teach the students and young professionals,” Dr Ulrike Al Khamis, who helped to devise and coordinate the summer school with the German colleagues on behalf of SMD, added, “This pioneering summer school is aimed at fostering cross-cultural knowledge and awareness in the field of appropriate museology as well as furthering professional development.”
Emirati SAWA participant Shaikha al Mazrouei hopes to benefit from this unique training opportunity for her professional future. “For me it is about the two way learning process which makes this training program interesting. I hope that we will learn from and with each other and that we will be able to apply what we discuss during the SAWA Summer School also on our various fields of museum practice.” And German student of Museum studies at the HTW Berlin Artur Gerke adds, “We enjoy very much to participate in this training program which is also a cultural exchange in itself. For me this is the first visit to the United Arab Emirates and it is very exciting to get to know this country and its people through my field of interest – its museums.”