OWNING THE PAST

FREE DISPLAY

A limestone statue of a male figure

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

Open 12 Dec 2020 – 16 May 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.