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SAWA Museum Studies Program

SAWA is the first ever explicitly transcultural capacity building program for current and future museum personnel in the Arab countries and Germany. SAWA is dedicated to the exchange of ideas on Appropriate Museum Studies across continents and cultures to encourage learning from and with each other.

The SAWA Term starts with a 2-week course in autumn in Sharjah/UAE followed by a 10-day course the following spring/summer in Berlin. Participants need to take part in both courses within one academic year. The intensive course is limited to 16 participants (8 from the MENA Region and 8 from Berlin).

The SAWA Modules address museological subjects such as:  

  • Collecting and Documenting: Participative strategies for past and present 
  • Curatorial strategies: From single to shared authorship 
  • Museum Communication: Access, Engagement and Interpretation 
  • What is a museum? Local versus International perspectives 

The SAWA method combines learning from experts with hands on exercises, which means that theoretical input is always reassessed in practice-orientated group work. It allows the participants
to gain insights not only into the practice of the Sharjah Museums and the State Museums of Berlin, but also to exchange best practice from each participant’s institutions. 

The SAWA staff consists of specialists from respective fields of museology and museum practice in Europe and the MENA Region. Each module’s content is jointly developed and taught by a European-MENA-based pairing. 

teaching together - learning together - developing an integrated curriculum together 

Who can apply? 

Applicants should either be in the early stages of a museum- related career or currently be enrolled as a graduate student at a University with a focus on museum-orientated studies. Excellent English language skills are a prerequisite. Participants can also apply for a grant.

Contact: SAWA-Academy[at]


SAWA helped me to break down barriers in my head that I didn’t even know were there. I felt that my ideas were welcome and respected. Other participants took them up and even developed them.

A participant 2018 

Of all the international training courses I’ve attended, what makes SAWA unique is how its format facilitates open dialogue.

A participant 2018

Leaving SAWA, I feel I‘ve learned so much about the museum culture of Sharjah, Berlin and the wider Middle East. But also about myself and the type of museum practitioner and person I want to be.

A participant 2018

Cooperation partner: Sharjah Museums Authority, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, University of Applied Sciences Berlin (HTW), Goethe-Institut Gulf Region
Sponsor: Volkswagen Stiftung, with the kind support of Sharjah Museums Authority (2016-2021), since 2021 Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany and Sharjah Museums Authority
Duration: since 2014