Monuments in Peril Series Continues with “Ransacking Iraq”

For Immediate Release

February 22, 2010

In April 2003, following the American occupation of Baghdad, looters ransacked the storied Iraqi National Museum. In a matter of hours, thousands of valuable archaeological and artistic artifacts disappeared from the museum’s historic collection. The museum was left in shambles. What was once a showcase of Iraq’s cultural heritage and a demonstration of Iraq’s incredible artistic, economic, and cultural contributions to the human odyssey, was now rubble, fragmented and in ruins. The lecture “Ransacking Iraq: The Destruction of the Iraqi National Museum” by Magnus Bernhardsson will be held on Tuesday, March 2, at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute as part of the Monuments in Peril series. This free lecture will be held at 7 pm.

Magnus Bernhardsson, a professor in Middle Eastern history at Williams College, will consider the 2003 looting of the museum and its aftermath. He will provide a historical account of the development of the museum and evaluate its political and cultural role in twentieth-century Iraqi society. He will also discuss the 2003 looting of the museum and the related destruction of other cultural institutions, and assess the developments of the last five years in reclaiming the stolen objects and the attempts to re-open the museum.

Bernhardsson teaches Middle Eastern history at Williams College. After earning his BA in theology and political science from the University of Iceland, he completed a master’s in religion from Yale Divinity School and a Ph.D. in History from Yale University in 1999. A specialist in the cultural and political history of Hashemite Iraq, Bernhardsson is the author of Reclaiming a Plundered Past: Archaeology and Nation Building in Modern Iraq and a book in Icelandic (now being translated into English) on the history of Iraq and Iran in the twentieth century.

Whether from the ravages of time or war, the pressures of development and change, or simple neglect, iconic monuments around the world face an uncertain future. In the Monuments in Peril Series, the Clark examines the world's most important monuments and the struggles they have encountered in the past and continue to face.

The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $15 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November 1 through May 31. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit clarkart.edu.

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