USF's Museum Blog

Teaching Museum Studies in Abu Dhabi

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Ali Abu Amer, USF’s Marjorie Schwarzer (center) and Alya Lootah in Abu Dhabi.

Door-to-door travel time from San Francisco to Abu Dhabi is just shy of 24 hours (if everything goes according to schedule).  But the long flight over the North Pole, Caspian Sea and mountains of Iran hasn’t deterred University of San Francisco faculty members Marjorie Schwarzer (Museum Studies) and Mouwafec Sidaoui (Chair of Business Analytics in the School of Management) from journeying to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) myriad times over the last few years.  There, they have both been working with young Emiratis and other emerging professionals from places as diverse as Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Australia and France to develop skills and tools for traversing the global workplace.

Students touring Professor Sidaoui through an exhibition mockup.

Students touring Professor Sidaoui through an exhibition mockup.

In the case of museums, since 2009 Marjorie has been leading workshops and courses, as well as lecturing at UNESCO-sponsored and other conferences, to help forge professional practices for the new museum culture emerging in the region.  Thanks to the leadership of curator Salwa Mikdadi, Marjorie has worked with the Emirates Foundation for Philanthropy as well as Tourism Culture Authority, Abu Dhabi on these projects.  Concurrently, working with the Higher Education Council of the United Arab Emirates, Mouwafac has been deeply engaged with research in leadership and organizational culture among global industries and public universities in the United Arab Emirates.

Abu Dhabi Museum students with USF team.

Abu Dhabi Museum students with USF team.

In December, Mouwafac joined Marjorie for the final day of Marjorie’s intensive week-long museum studies workshop for Emiratis at TCA Abu Dhabi.   The workshop was part of a 3-month course that Marjorie is teaching on-line and via Skype to help prepare Emiratis for positions in the newly-forming Louvre Abu Dhabi, (opening in December 2015), Zayed National Museum (opening in December 2016) and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi (opening in 2017).

Celebrating the last day of class in Abu Dhabi.

Celebrating the last day of class in Abu Dhabi.

USF’s Department of Art and Architecture will sponsor a free brown bag lunch-time discussion on Tuesday, April 29 for those interested in learning more about Marjorie’s museum work in the United Arab Emirates.

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