OWNING THE PAST

من بلاد الرافدين الى العراق
ملكية

FREE EXHIBITION

A limestone statue of a male figure

Sumerian statue of a male worshipper, 2600–2350 BC, AN1919.65

Open until 22 Aug 2021

Gallery 8

Free Admission


This dual language (Arabic and English) exhibition highlights the long-lasting impact of the past on the present. It explores how the borders of the state of Iraq were established following the First World War when British control of the region included a fascination with its ancient past - one that led to a colonisation of Mesopotamian antiquity as much as the living communities. It questions what is meant by heritage and introduces voices and stories of people not previously visible in displays devoted to the very histories and heritage of their homelands.

The exhibition opens with a commissioned installation by the artist Piers Secunda. His powerful artwork is created from a reproduction of the Assyrian relief of a bird-headed spirit from Nimrud, Iraq, that now dominates the Museum’s Welcome Space. It acts as a metaphor for the wider destruction of individual and community identities resulting from war, colonialism, oppressive ideologies, and neglect.

SUPPORTERS

 

The Piers Secunda art installation was made possible thanks to the generosity of Arts Council England and the Owning the Past Supporters Circle.

Arts Council

 

 

 

 

Christine Down 

Peter Khulmann and Diane Gilmour 

Hans and Anna Leemhuis-Röell 

Milton Abbey Association 

Eva Röell and Martijn Meeske 

Guus Röell  

And all those who prefer to remain anonymous 

The exhibition is supported by

The van Houten Fund 

Al Tajir Trust 

The British Institute for the Study of Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial) 


The exhibition, curated by the Ashmolean’s Dr Paul Collins in collaboration with Dr Myfanwy Lloyd, could not have been developed without the help, advice and guidance received from:

Dr Priya Atwal

Dr Robert Bewley

Professor Santanu Das

Professor Louise Fawcett

Dr Robert Johnson

Professor Margaret MacMillan

Professor Eugene Rogan

Debbie Usher

Loans have generously been made available by:

Magdalen College Archive

Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College

The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum

Piers Secunda