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New migration museum aims to combat prejudice

Project leader Thomas Buomberger says the museum will be a workshop for open discussion of migration Keystone Archive

Plans have been announced for a museum in Switzerland devoted to migration. One proposal is that it would incorporate several features of the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Behind the project are officials responsible for combating racism and experts on migration and intercultural relations. Its head is historian Thomas Buomberger, who says the theme’s relevance will grow during the next few decades in Western Europe for both demographic and economic reasons.

“Lower birth rates and longer life expectancy will create a bigger need for new immigrants to fill gaps in the employment market,” he said. “And as a country of immigration, Switzerland needs somewhere to encourage reflection, a kind of workshop where the subject can be openly discussed.”

The plans are still at an early stage, and it thought that the earliest opening date for such a museum would be 2006, eight years after it was first proposed by the intercultural forum in Winterthur. Possible locations are Zurich, Basel or Lucerne.

One idea is that it should be modelled on the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, the tolerance museum is a high tech, interactive institution which challenges visitors to confront racism and prejudice.

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