Cultural Program in Berlin Offers Arabic Museum Tours to Refugees

Multaka/Facebook / Multaka/Facebook

Since Berlin began welcoming Syrian asylum-seekers in 2015, the city is continuing to go above and beyond to make refugees feel more at home. As The Art Newspaper reports, an integration effort from the German city is offering free museum tours in Arabic.

Multaka, Arabic for “meeting place,” is a cultural program designed for and led by refugees. More than 20 trained tour guides from Syria and Iraq conduct tours twice a week in four museums around Berlin. The institutions they visit might showcase Islamic art or artifacts from German history. According to Stefan Weber, director of the Museum of Islamic Art and one of the initiators of the project, guides are usually attracted to pieces they find meaning in.

“With the help of objects from our past, questions from our present are debated," he told Le Journal des Arts. "Museums become spaces of reflection on collective identities.”

Since the initiative launched in fall of 2015, more than 4000 museum guests have taken part. For some, the Multaka program marked their first visit to a museum.

The program has also provided a valuable opportunity for migrants coming to Germany from professional backgrounds. Displaced refugees with advanced degrees often struggle to find work in their field, and Multaka has given work to 25 tour guides with experience in a variety of disciplines. And as DW reported earlier this year, the Syrian and Iraqi tour guides are paid the same as their German peers.

With two awards under its belt, Multaka has already proven to be a success. In April, the Federal Ministry of Culture granted the program €85,000 (or nearly $95,000) to launch its next phase: intercultural studios that encourage exchange between locals and refugees.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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