Culture as a stimulus for integration: The Multaka Projekt receives an award


On 21 May 2016, the project 'Multaka: Museum as Meeting Point' was awarded the new special prize for projects which promote the cultural inclusion of refugees. The prize was awarded by Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture.

The project, initiated by the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum), is one of three winners chosen by a jury from 150 applicants and ten nominated projects. The awards come with prize money of €10,000. The presentation of the special award, which took place in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, formed the opening event of an action week entitled 'Culture Opens Worlds.' A joint initiative by the Federal Government, the federal states and local authorities, the action week aims to use culture as a tool for bringing together people of all age-groups and nationalities.

Sandy Albahri, one of the Multaka guides, thanked the Minister for the award on behalf of her fellow guides and project participants. It was very enjoyable, she said, to learn not only about the culture and history of Germany, but of her own country too. Bashar Almahfoud, another Multaka guide, went on to thank the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media, the Minister of State for Families, Women, the Elderly and the Young, the Schering-Stiftung, the Deutsches Historisches Museum and numerous private donors for supporting the Multaka Project. Highlighting the project's importance, he explained: “Multaka opens worlds, because it gives newly-arrived people a direct experience of cultural diversity and thus helps them become better integrated into their new society."

In his speech of thanks, Stefan Weber, Director of the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum for Islamic Art) and one of the project's initiators, emphasised the social role of museums: “Objects from our past lead to discussion of current issues. Museums become spaces in which to reflect on collective identity. Several thousand refugees have visited the museums and – more importantly – have engaged in active discussion of their own history and that of Germany." Active integration and participation take place, he went on to say, when people feel respected. The value attached to the cultures of both the Middle East and Germany by the museums taking part in the project make respect a mutual process.

Since October 2015, the Multaka Project has been training refugees to be guides in Berlin's museums. In tours of the Museum für Islamische Kunst (Museum for Islamic Art) and the Museum of the Ancient Near East (both housed in the Pergamonmuseum) and in tours of the Bode-Museum, they inform fellow refugees about these multi-facetted world-historical collections. In the Deutsches Historisches Museum refugees encounter the eventful history of Germany.