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To cover Iraq for our World in London project, we found examples of the country’s fascinating ancient history, as well as a shocking example of the current conflict in Iraq.
The British Museum holds the biggest Mesopotamian collection outside of Iraq. In Room 56 you can see objects illustrating the invention of writing, agriculture and developments in technology and artistry, showing why Mesopotamia (now Iraq, north east Syria and part of south east Turkey) is known as “the cradle of civilisation”.
The museum is also working to preserve Iraq’s cultural heritage by providing conservation, archaeological and curatorial assistance to Iraq since 2003.
The Imperial War Museum is displaying an object showing the impact of the war in Iraq on civilian life. Baghdad, 5 March 2007 by Jeremy Deller is a car salvaged from a street market bombing in Baghdad. The museum’s Head of Collections, Roger Tolson, explains its importance:
“We are a museum about all aspects of conflict and this object has immediacy with the ongoing conflict in Iraq. Although this car is 3 years old it is part of an ongoing conflict. It shows the causes, consequences and conduct of war.
“We are showing it in the main atrium which predominantly contains machinery designed to kill or maim. This was a civilian car, part of an individual or family’s life. It shows how conflict transforms life.
“It’s not the obvious face of the Imperial War Museum. In the early days on display, people were coming to the museum for the first time to see the car.
“I think it’s important for us to be collecting these materials for future generations but what we can’t do is evaluate the story yet like we can with the First World War. These are still raw events but it’s important to show different aspects of conflicts and this part of the story. To see things in real life not just on TV. It gives a sense of the sheer force of these things.”
The car is on display in London until April 2011, when it will move to Imperial War Museum North.
Have you come across any examples of Iraq in London? Tell us in the comments below.