Sharing History

Arab World – Europe | 1815 – 1918

The newest and most challenging Virtual Museum project from MWNF builds bridges through cultural history and helps make peace possible through knowledge and understanding.

Why does it matter that we all share history?

Have you ever thought about the fact that behind our awareness of history and cultural values today are several hundred years of a tradition where one part of the world had established the milestones for the interpretation of world history, while the rest of the world had adopted those milestones to understand their own history?

Until the beginning of the Internet era and the globalisation that came with it, this tradition built the basis of the world order and was actively or passively accepted by all involved. But the scenario has changed: today we are all called upon to look at our past as a shared heritage, which will give us inspiration for a joint future only if interpreted collectively, taking into consideration the perspectives of all concerned.

This is where MWNF's Sharing History comes in, with its aim of using works of art and cultural heritage to make the discovery of shared history both enjoyable and educational and to empower and engage people of all ages everywhere.

What distinguishes MWNF as the initiator of the Sharing History project?

MWNF has 20 years of experience in “rewriting history” beyond narrow nationalist agendas and promoting an entirely new, inclusive vision of history that highlights and celebrates the interconnections, cross-fertilisations, exchanges and cooperation between cultures in areas as diverse as archaeology, art and culture, economy and social life. MWNF projects aim to be meaningful against the backdrop of contemporary global challenges and conflicts by providing a unique opportunity to demonstrate the far-reaching potential of cultural heritage in building intercultural bridges in the name of peace.

What is Sharing History about?

Sharing History is a Virtual Museum and Virtual Exhibition cycle exploring the relations between the Arab and Ottoman world and Europe between 1815 and 1918, a complex and highly sensitive period that saw the rise of industrialisation and witnessed European colonial dominance in North Africa and the Middle East until the end of World War I. A hundred years of shared history that still determines our relations today.

How was Sharing History made and what does it offer?

The Sharing History Virtual Museum is the result of a joint effort of partners – museums, archives, libraries, universities – from 22 countries, based on the successful methodology of MWNF.

The experts (curators) appointed by the partner institutions have been working together for two years to analyse the background and legacy of key moments in their shared histories and to look at them from their respective perspectives. Four international meetings made it possible to create a variety of options to discover Arab and Ottoman–European relations in the period under survey:
  • Ten themed Exhibitions focus on areas of great relevance for interaction. Each exhibition displays a fantastic variety of material from all participating countries such as documents, historic photographs, works of art, archaeological items, objects relating to daily life and images of monuments. Texts offer different levels of information, according to the specific interest of the reader
  • A searchable Database provides information on about 3,000 items including those on display in the exhibitions.
  • In Collections users are able to view the material contributed by each country or to see the material available in the Database for each of the Exhibition themes.
  • A themed Timeline together with a Historical Profile of all participating countries offers further context.
  • The Historical Background provides information on the three specific perspectives of the period: Arab, Ottoman and European.
  • My Collection enables registered users to create personalised collections, and My Exhibition lets them “curate” their own exhibitions.
  • Partners gives further information about the institutions involved.
The multilateral spirit of the project and its pioneering character are firmly anchored in the composition of the project team with partners from 22 countries, and the online Virtual Museum format allows participants equal visibility and equal opportunity to benefit from the results.

Sharing History was set up under the umbrella of partnership between MWNF and the League of Arab States, which promotes awareness about the Arab world’s history and cultural legacy.

We hope you will enjoy your visit and look forward to your feedback at feedback@museumwnf.net.

Eva Schubert
Chair and CEO
Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF)

Related Content

Extract from the speech by Dr Ulrike Al-Khamis, Sharjah Museums Department, on behalf of the Sharing History partner institutions, on the occasion of the second international meeting

Video Partner Meetings (2 min.)

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