The New Mexico History Museum’s exhibit “Syria: Cultural Patrimony Under Threat,” which opens on June 23, shows how objects and places of cultural, traditional or historical importance in Syria have been destroyed or adversely affected by the country’s ongoing civil war.
The heart of the exhibit is seven albums of photographs of historic sites in Syria taken between 1899 and 1909 that are part of the Palace of the Governors’ photo archives.
“I found out about these photos from Khristaan Villela, the current director of the Museum of International Folk Art,” explains the New Mexico History Museum’s director Andrew Wulf. “Khristaan wrote a comprehensive article that brought this photo collection back to light. Most of the sites in these photos don’t exist any more. They’ve been blow to pieces in the war.”
A learning kiosk that museum staff assembled with assistance from Curators Without Borders, a non-profit that specializes in helping museums communicate the human factor in their exhibitions, complements the photographs. The kiosk features an interactive iPad with additional photos and information about Syria and its people.
“Syria was a modern country where people led normal lives,” adds Wulf. “The story of their civil war is about an uprooted people.”
The exhibit, Wulf says, serves as a “welcome note” to Syrian refugee families that have been making a new home in New Mexico in recent months.
“Syria: Cultural Patrimony Under Threat” is a companion exhibit to “Artistic Heritage: Syrian Folk Art,” which is on display at the Museum of International Folk Art through the end of the year.