Oxford wins Museums and Heritage award for work with migrants

News University News

Oxford University’s Multaka-Oxford project, which provides volunteering opportunities for forced migrants at Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum and History of Science Museum, has been presented with Volunteer Team of the Year at the Museum and Heritage Awards.

The annual awards, which were announced on Wednesday 15 May aim to celebrate innovative and ground-breaking initiatives from the museums and heritage sector across the UK. The name ‘Multaka’ means ‘meeting point’ in Arabic, a language native to many of the forced migrants which have participated in the project.

In a press release, Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM), said the two-year project “uses the [museum] collections as a meeting point to bring people together.”

Working with local community organisations such as Asylum Welcome, Connection Support and Refugee Resource, the museums have successfully recruited over 40 volunteers who have recently arrived from Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Burma and Oman.

GLAM say the programs will help the volunteers “learn new skills and gain work experience”. Volunteer-led tours of the History of Science Museum launched late last year, with tours of the Pitt Rivers set to begin on 14 June. And a display of textiles from the Middle East and North Africa, called Multaka: Connecting Threads, is currently running at the Pitt Rivers, which “weaves in personal stories and observations from the volunteers to offer new perspectives on the collection”.

Talking about Multaka-Oxford, Diane Lees, Director General of the Imperial War Museums and Chair of the judging panel, noted: “The genuine mutual benefit to both organisation and volunteer is clear to see with this winning team. They have shared their experience, insight and expertise to collaborate and to reach new audiences, helping the museums to be more relevant and accessible to their communities.”

Image credit: Oxford University Gardens, Libraries and Museums (GLAM)