Sharjah Museums Authority wins ‘Best Cultural Collaboration’ award in Berlin

The Sharjah Museums Authority, SMA, won the “Best Cultural Collaboration Award” for its innovative SAWA Museums Academy programme during the Leading Cultural Destinations Awards, LCD, in Berlin.

Dubbed the “Oscars for Museums” by The New York Times, LCD Berlin, a unique partnership between Leading Culture Destinations and visitBerlin, recognises the exceptional contributions of leading culture destinations from across the globe to cultural life.

This year’s edition, held outside of London for the first time, featured 18 awards in five categories including Leading Culture Destinations of the Year, New Culture Destinations of the Year, Soft Power Destinations of the Year, Climate Smart Award and the Avis Travellers’ Awards, as well as a new award for 2020, Best Cultural Initiative: Bridging Borders.

The ceremony saw the participation of 50 top cultural destinations from 26 countries, including Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, the UAE, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Based on the multicultural approach in teaching museology at its SAWA Museums Academy, SMA won the award under the Soft Power Destination of the Year category, outrunning Sisters in Liberty – Opera di Santa Croce and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration (Santa Croce, Italy/New York) and Ottawa Art Gallery, a visual arts institution in Canada.

Receiving the award, Manal Ataya, Director-General of SMA, attributed the success of their first ever transcultural programme in the region, SAWA (together in Arabic), to its uniqueness and to the great efforts of those behind it between Sharjah and Germany.

“We are honoured to receive this award that recognises the commitment of SMA and our partners in Germany over the past few years to design and implement a programme that has a positive impact on future museum leaders to thrive in multicultural environments and prepares them to tackle global challenges,” Ataya said.

She noted that SAWA Museums Academy is a running collaboration between SMA and the Goethe-Institut Gulf Region, the University of Applied Sciences (HTW Berlin), and the Staatliche Museen Berlin- Stiftung PreuBischer Kulturbesitz and with sponsorship from Volkswagen Stiftung.

“This unique programme, which was launched in 2015, is dedicated to the exchange of ideas between young Arab and German professionals through hands-on experience in museology, and also to promote intercultural dialogue by allowing students to learn from and with each other,” Ataya added.

Winners were announced by an international jury comprising high-profile figures including Matthew Anderson, European Culture Editor for The New York Times; Helena Egan, Tourism and Place-making Specialist; Dr. Martin Heller, Cultural Advocate and Arts Patron; Oliver Jahn, Editor-in-Chief, Architectural Digest; Dr. Thierry Morel, Director, Curator-at-Large and Board Member of the Hermitage Foundation; Artist, Ahmet Out; and Salma Tuqan, Deputy Director of the Delfina Foundation.