SAWA Museum Studies Program  is a practical museological Arab-German program that acknowledges differences and commonalities to inspire innovative museum practices. It serves as a platform for knowledge sharing and networking for emerging museum practitioners.

In Arabic سوا – SAWA means together. This name was chosen to shed light on the collaborative nature of this Museum Studies Program. It is designed to bring together facilitators and participants in equal parts from Arabic-speaking countries and Europe, creating a diverse and inclusive learning space.  Each module is led by a team of two museum experts, one from the UAE and one from Europe, providing a range of expertise and perspectives. Every  year a new group of early-career museum enthusiasts are selected with equal representation from the MENA region and Europe. 

Aiming a critical approach to 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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Photo of the 2023 cohort at Bait Al Naboodah in Sharjah. February, 2023.

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 facilitators. 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 different societies. SAWA’s purpose is to increase awareness of discrimination and privilege on all sides, to diversify audiences and to broaden perspectives for one’s practice. Together participants and facilitators analyze the challenges that museums in different countries across the MENA region and Europe are dealing with.

Appropriate Museology

Appropriate museology is a core topic for the SAWA Museum Studies Program. It aims 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.

Social Justice in the Museum

For SAWA Museum Studies Program it is absolutely imperative that museums as public institutions reflect on prejudice and discrimination. Participants and facilitators work consciously to deconstruct their own prejudices and develop discrimination-critical strategies for new and appropriate museum practices.

Diversity and the Museum

In SAWA Museum Studies Program diversity serves as a leitmotif in creating a space where participants share their common professional experience while at the same time learning to accept a maximum of cultural differences and range of diversity.

Impact on the Museum

Learning together impacts the ways participants of the SAWA Museum Studies Program work in museums, present objects, provide information, and engage with visitors. Long-term learning outcomes reflect why SAWA Museum Academy is so unique.

SAWA Museum Studies Program 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.