Berlin’s emblematic Museum Island counts from this month on with 19 Syrian and Iraqi refugees who have been trained as guides in order to show to their compatriots the treasures present in the Pergamon Museum, the Bode Museum, and the German Historical Museum in their own language. This pilot project, named “Mutaka” (“meeting point”, in Arabic), symbolizes “the exchange of different cultural and historical experiences”, but also “the resemblances between Germany, Syria and Iraq”, declared the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation at a statement today. The Foundation’s chairman, Hermann Pazinger, described the project, in which “the refugees will become guides through their own history and through one that misses them”, as exemplary for the German Museums scene. “With this we do not mean to say that we have invented the key for integration, but the refugees will be strengthened by their training and the acknowledging of their own cultural identity, which means a lot to us. Furthermore, they will immerse themselves in our culture, in our tour through the centuries”, he said.
According to Parzinger, the only thing that can result from this project – an initiative of the Museum of Islamic Art in Berlin – is “tolerance and value for the understanding”. “‘Mutaka’ constitutes an opportunity to undertake new paths in the understanding and the acceptance in a heterogeneous and ethnically diverse society”, pointed out the Berlin State Museums’ managing director, Michael Eissenhauer.