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Fire Station invites Qatar’s schools to learn about Laundromat

The program complements Ai Weiwei’s poignant homage to the refugee crisis


Qatar Museums Education has announced another exciting educational program, this time to complement the newly opened Laundromat exhibition at Fire Station: Artist in Residence by international artist and activist Ai Weiwei.

Qatar Museums is inviting schools to take part in pre-booked interactive programs that will contextualize the exhibition and relate it to the national curriculum standards. Students will learn how art can be used as a tool to express a powerful statement of human conditions.

Weiwei’s Laundromat addresses the current refugee crisis and its humanitarian consequences by artistic means. Through a process of close observation and dialogue with the QM educators, the students and teachers will exchange ideas, leading to a greater understanding of the issues and concepts encapsulated by the exhibition.

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The visitors will also be invited to contribute to a public interactive artwork called “Letters to the Unknown”, conceived by Deena Hammam, intended to extend the experience and the thoughts raised by the exhibition. This incremental sculpture offers the public—teachers and students alike—an opportunity to communicate with and reflect of the experiences of the refugees.

Commenting on the program’s launch, Dr. Jelena Trkulja, Director of Education at QM said: “Laundromat uses art to shed light on the refugee crisis, a devastating phenomenon and one of the most pressing topics of our time. It was important for us to introduce students, the leaders of tomorrow, to this subject matter in an immersive and age-appropriate method. Our hope is that the program would challenge them to reflect on and gain a greater understanding of the issue.”

Other program activities include: “The Journey, the Distance and the Destination”, an art session that highlights the challenges that refugees face as they sail looking for a better tomorrow. Schools wishing to participate are invited to register via: schoolvisits@qm.org.qa.

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Laundromat brings together thousands of articles of clothing collected from a makeshift refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece. The camp was shut down in May 2016 and the refugees that had been living there were evacuated, leaving their possessions behind. In all, 2,046 items of clothing are displayed alongside personal mementos and photographs. The exhibition is open at the Fire Station until the 1st of June.

Under the visionary guidance of Qatar Museums Chairperson, HE Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums (QM) renovated the old Civil Defence building (known locally as the old Fire Station building) to create a new hub for creative exchange. The project is one of several ones that QM is undertaking to consolidate Qatar’s efforts to become a vibrant centre for the arts, culture and education, in the Middle East and beyond.