Berlin’s award-winning museums project training Syrian and Iraqi migrants to lead tours in Arabic is itself crossing borders. Since February, Oxford has developed its own version of Multaka: Museum as Meeting Point—Refugees as Guides in Berlin Museums, first launched in December 2015 by Berlin State Museums and the Deutsches Historisches Museum.
Oxford’s museums have been doing outreach for seven years with the city’s community of Arabic-speaking refugees. Inspired by Multaka, the Pitt Rivers Museum and the Museum of the History of Science decided to run a similar project jointly, taking on the name with the Berlin team’s blessing.
The Museum of the History of Science is training refugees as guides to its astronomical instruments collection. “We realised there was lots of work that could be done to make this collection more accessible and, as many of its objects grew out of the Arabic-speaking world, it was a good fit for this project,” says Abigael Flack, the collections officer for Multaka Oxford. Eight of the 26 registered participants will deliver tours in Arabic and English from the end of this year.
The Pitt Rivers is engaging communities in “more hands-on curatorial work”, Flack says. This helped to secure a £120,000 grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund, run by the UK Museums Association, which supports collections projects with a social impact. The refugees are co-curating an exhibition based on a recent acquisition of Middle Eastern textiles. Flack is teaching them to observe, handle and label objects for the show, which is due to open in April 2019.
Read full article by Ploy Radford in The Art Newspaper.