A MUSEUM has unveiled their Syrian glass collection dating back over 2,000 years to mark the fifth anniversary of the first refugees from Syria arriving in Renfrewshire.

In 2015, the local authority was among the first Scottish councils to welcome Syrian refugees through the UK Government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.

Five years on, the team at Paisley Museum have been working closely with some of the town’s refugees to create a brand new display for its glass collection.

Despite being held in the museum’s collections since the 1940s, the potential significance of the glassware was only recently realised by research assistant Joel Fagan whilst moving objects into The Secret Collection, in preparation for the museum’s £42million redevelopment.

A partnership between a group of Syrian learners and the museum was established through their participation in English language classes delivered by Renfrewshire Council’s Adult Learning and Literacies Services. 

Following sessions with the museum team, the group chose 13 pieces of glassware from the 2nd and 3rd century AD including a Syrian glass beaker from Damascus, a brown bulbous bottle decorated in fluorescent and gold, and a purple beaker with a dark feathered design for display.

The Gazette: Khadeja Alhorani, Jamal Horani and Maryam AlhoraniKhadeja Alhorani, Jamal Horani and Maryam Alhorani

Family members Jamal Horani and Khadeja Alhorani arrived in Paisley from Syria in 2018 and are part of the ESOL group who have been working with the Paisley Museum on the Syrian glass objects.

Jamal said: "We were so happy and surprised to find these pieces made by our ancestors were here in Scotland. We used to collect these types of glass items at home back in Syria and it made me feel quite emotional and proud to find them here."

Khadeja added: "We want people to know that we have a great civilisation and that our glass making is known very well across the world. It’s not just the conflict - there are many other good things about our country."

Councillor Lisa-Marie Hughes, chair of Renfrewshire Leisure, said: "These magnificent items provide a snapshot of the rich cultural heritage refugees had to leave behind when they fled from the conflict in Syria. 

"Like everyone who lives and works in our town, the Syrian families have become an important part of our community, and we are delighted that they are taking an active role in the redevelopment of Paisley Museum."