- Experts from around the world gather in Sharjah to find a common language between the international museums staff during Appropriate Museology equals Appropriate Language conference
- Sharjah Museums Department partners with Goethe-Institut to host conference addressing cross-cultural confusion- “Appropriate Museology equals Appropriate Language”
- Experts from around the world gather in Sharjah to find a common language between the international museums staff
United Arab Emirates, Sharjah, 31st March 2015: In a unique and unprecedented collaboration, Sharjah Museums Department, Goethe-Institut Gulf Region and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin have joined forces to present the first ever interdisciplinary conference on intercultural communication and translation in museums in the Gulf region.
The three-day event is closing today at the Sharjah Museums for Islamic Civilization and is organized in cooperation with the University of Applied Science in Berlin (HTW) and with the support of the Volkswagen Foundation.
Entitled ‘Appropriate Museology equals Appropriate Language’ the conference, which brings together international academic experts in translation, social and cultural studies as well as museum practitioners, focuses on the all-encompassing importance of intercultural communication and translation in a museum context – from concepts, methodologies and terminologies to behavioural patterns, from the way objects are collected, interpreted and displayed to culturally appropriate interactions with a multitude of audiences.
The event is the latest in an ongoing, long-term partnership between Sharjah Museums Department, the Goethe Institut and Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, established in 2013 with the signing of a formal Memorandum of Understanding. It builds on a series of successful professional exchange programmes and a major co-curated exhibition to celebrate Sharjah’s accolade as ‘Capital of Islamic Culture 2014’ - ‘Early Capitals of Islamic Culture – The Artistic Legacy of Umayyad Damascus and Abbasid Baghdad’, staged at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization between October 2014 and January 2015.
Both the concept and the format for ‘Appropriate Museology=Appropriate Language’ result directly from those collaborations and take as their point of departure the intellectual and practical experiences, conversations and observations shared by the partners during the various stages of their development. Key themes that have emerged during those encounters will provide the focus for bilingual, English-Arabic talks, discussions and practical exercises, which do not only consider language and behaviour, but also museum objects as both targets and catalysts of intercultural communication and dialogue.
“In its interdisciplinary, the conference is a highly innovative departure, which we hope will add to the growing discourse on intercultural communication in museums. This ground-breaking event marks the latest collaboration with our partners from the Goethe Institut, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Berlin University for Technology and the Sciences (HTW), and we hope that its outcomes will lead to further fruitful and significant projects,” said Manal Ataya, the Director General of Sharjah Museums Department, at the launch of the conference.
“In the international museum sector, the issues of appropriate intercultural language and communication are assuming an ever more crucial importance, be it in the continuing development of already existing museums or with regard to new museums projects,” explains Dr Ulrike al-Khamis, Senior Strategic Advisor Sharjah Museums Department, who worked on the concept of the conference with Dr Susan Kamel, project manager of the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region.
“This is particularly so as to this day, more often than not, museum projects in non-western regions of the world have relied and continue to rely on western or western-centric concepts, methodologies, terminologies,, expertise and communicative patterns without much in-depth intercultural dialogue or discourse addressing and engaging with the specific cultural needs of a place and its people.”
Dr Susan Kamel added: “In a globalising world, appropriate intercultural communication in museums – be it among museum professionals or between museums and audiences – is crucial not only with regard to the successful delivery of a museum’s general objectives within its respective society, but in particular as a tool in furthering intercultural dialogue, understanding and peace-making, both at home and beyond”.
Among the national and international scholars and practitioners participating in the conference are: Manal Ataya (General Director of Sharjah Museums Department), Dr Ulrike al-Khamis (Senior Strategic Advisor Sharjah Museums Department), Dr Susan Kamel (Project Manager, Goethe-Institut Gulf Region), Dr Said Faiq (Professor of Translation and Intercultural Studies American University of Sharjah, UAE), Dr K. K. Chakravarty (Chairman Lalit Kala Akademi, India), Angelita Teo (Director National Museum of Singapore), Dr Heba Neyal Barakat (Visiting Professor Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia), Mamitu Yilma (Director National Museum of Ethiopia), Dr Ciraj Rassool (Professor Museum and Heritage Studies, University of Western Cape, South Africa), Aisha Deemas (Director of Executive Affairs, Sharjah Museums Department, UAE), Kholoud al Holi (Sharjah Fort Museum, Sharjah Museums Department), Monika Zessnik (Curator Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Ethnologisches Museum, Germany), Dr John-Paul Sumner (Access Curator, Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery, Scotland), Lara Khaldi, Freelance Curator, Jerusalem, Amsterdam) and Dr Eva Schubert (Director Museum without Frontiers).
The outcomes of the “Appropriate Museology = Appropriate Language” conference will be gathered in a publication aimed at feeding into the ongoing international discourse surrounding intercultural communication from an innovative perspective. At the same time, the key findings are envisaged to help pave the way towards a more culturally appropriate, museological language and museology in the Gulf and beyond, anchored in local culture and inspired by transnational debate.
The Sharjah Museum Department
The Goethe-Institute is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institution operational worldwide. The institute promotes the study of German abroad and encourages international cultural exchange. It also fosters knowledge about Germany by providing information on its culture, society and politics.
The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, founded in 1830, constitute a Universal Museum for the preservation, research and mediation of treasures of art and culture of the entire history of humanity. Their collections embrace the areas of European and extra- European art, archaeology and ethnology. The main museum complex in the Museum Island in Berlin was added to the UNESCO list of Word Heritage Sites in 1999. The Staatliche Museen zu Berlin belong to the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation).
The HTW Berlin –is Berlin’s largest University of Applied Sciences with a student body of more than 13,000 students. With around 70 Bachelor’s and Master’s courses in Engineering, Economics, Information Technology, Culture and Design, the university offers Museum Studies with a unique integrative study programme offering courses in collection management, conservation, museum education, curation and museum management