March 24, 2017

New Penn Museum exhibit focuses on what's at stake when cultural heritage is destroyed

'Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq' set to open in April

A new exhibit is opening at the Penn Museum on Saturday, April 8. "Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq" will focus on what's at stake when cultural heritage is destroyed in war-torn areas, and what can be done to prevent further loss of cultural identities in the Middle East.

More than 50 objects from the Museum's Near East and Mediterranean collections will be on display, along with a range of Arabic manuscripts from University of Pennsylvania libraries.

"The region [that is now Iraq and Syria] has rich diversity – and much of the ethnic targeting and cultural heritage destruction has been sectarian in nature," states the Penn Museum. "Palmyrene funerary reliefs, a Hebrew tombstone, an eye idol, incantation bowls and a manuscript page from a Qur’an provide tangible evidence of a long history of religious and ethnic diversity in the region."

As a modern response to the historic artifacts, Syrian artist Issam Kourbaj created artwork for the exhibit. Art and video installations will be scattered throughout the exhibit. One piece is made from old bike mudguards, which have been repurposed into a boat.

"Kourbaj’s works reflect upon the human suffering, despair, struggle — and hope — in his native land, " according to the museum.

The exhibit will be open through Saturday, Nov. 25, 2018.


"Cultures in the Crossfire: Stories from Syria and Iraq"

Saturday, April 8 through Saturday, Nov. 25, 2018
$10-$15 general admission
Penn Museum
3260 South St.