Although MIA's galleries are currently closed for an ambitious reimagining, the Learning and Outreach team continues to offer educational activities and workshops for schools and families. And when the museum reopens fully in late 2022, new programmes will also be on the agenda. We checked in with Mr Salem Al Aswad, Deputy Director of MIA, Learning & Outreach, to discuss the current and future plans.
The Museum of Islamic Art's Learning and Outreach Department develops programmes that broaden participants’ horizons and increase their knowledge of Islamic arts.
MIA has always welcomed visitors of all ages, but when it reopens this fall it will be an even more inviting place for families and children. Mr Al Aswad pointed out that various methods aimed at enriching visitors’ experiences will be adopted, such as integrating technology into the new programmes and workshops and exploring Islamic heritage by relying more on sensory items. Examples include making replicas of MIA's famous artefacts so that visitors, especially children, can touch, hold and examine them up close to better understand their materials.
Access and Inclusion
A key aspect of MIA's Learning and Outreach programmes is ensuring that there is something for everyone, including visitors with special needs. In this context, Mr Al Aswad points to the MIA Ambassadors’ Programme, which, since 2010, has inspired secondary school students to create theatre performances about any object or era in the museum. Many students with hearing, speech or visual impairments have participated in this programme through sign language or other accommodations.
“ Museums are not just a place where unique objects are displayed, but rather cultural landmarks that play a role in education and history. ”
A Balance of Continuity and Change
The existing activities, including the Ambassadors' Programme, will not be set aside, according to Mr Al Aswad, but new elements and programmes will be added to take advantage of the reimagined galleries. As he explains, "Our educational programmes will witness a radical change in terms of content and form and will be closely linked to the museum's famous collections".
Along with the Ambassadors’ Programme, a number of other programmes will continue, including Irsim, which is intended for primary students, Ektashif, which supports Qatari artists, and Poetry Recitals, which feature poets from universities, secondary schools and the community. One of the museum's most beloved programmes is Community Day, which highlights a diverse range of cultural identities through food, folk songs and traditional costumes.
The international audience is no less important than the local one, and Mr Al Aswad confirms that visitors from abroad will also have a share of upcoming programmes.
Listening to Visitors
As with all museum departments, the Learning and Outreach team relies on participant feedback to uplift services so that they can better satisfy audience needs. This will be solicited via surveys and other methods to inform how MIA produces ongoing and exhibition-related activities.
Welcoming Football Fans
Renowned internationally for its unique collection, MIA is expected to be one of the most important tourist attractions for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ fans, who will be flocking to Doha from all over the world.
Upon the recommendation of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, work is under way on several activities that can rise to this global occasion, including programmes that will take place in MIA Park during November and December. A full schedule of daily public events that will be organised with the participation of dozens of countries will be shared in advance of the tournament.
Loubna Zeidan is an Editorial Specialist at Qatar Museums.
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