Friday April 18, 2008
Bancroft School Main Auditorium, 110 Shore Drive
11:15AM – 2:30PM
Dr. Donny George was the honored guest of Bancroft School, a private K-12 school in Worcester, MA, where he shared his amazing personal story with faculty and students. Starting with a lunch with faculty, Dr. George then spoke directly to a World History class of teen-aged students about the consequences of the looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad. Afterwards, he addressed the entire Upper School (about 220 students plus faculty) in a special assembly, presenting a summary of Mesopotamian culture and a synopsis of the looting of the Iraq Museum and surrounding archaeological sites. By providing a greater context for the story of the looting of the museum, Dr. George enabled students to grasp key factors relating to all looting and the illicit trade in antiquities on a world-wide scale. Students received an invaluable lesson they will carry with them as they enter into university careers, knowing that they can be a part of a solution for the global problem of the looting and destruction of humanity’s shared past. This event was arranged by Bancroft School Cultural Events Coordinator Sydney Patten and SAFE Board Member Alexandra Cleworth. SAFE thanks the Bancroft School for generously co-sponsoring this event with us.
Friday April 18, 2008
Trinity Lutheran Church Jeppson Hall, 73 Lancaster Street
Dr. Donny George spoke on the aftermath of the looting of the Iraq Museum to an appreciative audience in Worcester, MA as part of a series of events commemorating the fifth anniversary of this crime that sent shockwaves around the world. The previous evening, Dr. George was the honored guest of the Worcester Art Museum‘s President’s Circle, a group of museum donors deeply committed to cultural objects. At the home of museum director Dr. James Welu, Dr. George expressed his strong hope that the world will learn from this tragic occurrence and move forward for greater protection of our shared past.
At Friday’s evening lecture, which was free and open to the public, Dr. George spoke passionately about his love of Mesopotamian culture, his respect for those people who have dedicated themselves to the preservation of historic artifacts worldwide, and his dream of one day returning to Iraq and his beloved museum. Those present gained a deeper perspective on the role of Mesopotamian culture in history and how authoritarian regimes often attempt to alter history, to rewrite it in support of their own glory. The audience was fascinated not only by his compelling story of attempts to safeguard the museum and its precious resources but by his plea for American audiences to note that Iraq was not always a country in conflict. He remarked that in years past, he and his colleagues went to western movies, listened to rock and roll, and enjoyed a European atmosphere. He urged those attending not to view Iraqi culture only through the prism of the current conflict. One of his deepest fears was for the safety of his former students, who had received invaluable hands-on training at the museum; his deepest regrets included his view that the museum should remain closed for the time being, until the political situation has clearly improved: this means it is possible that an entire generation of Iraqi students will not have the benefit of seeing their own heritage at the museum.
Dr. George praised the efforts of SAFE and the Archaeological Institute of America as two groups working to protect our shared global cultural heritage and the continued interest of the American public. He concluded with an image taken from Worcester’s own Candlelight Vigil for the Iraq Museum, held the previous Friday on 11 April 2008 on the entrance steps to the Worcester Art Museum, featuring a father and his baby son holding a candle, thanking those who support ongoing efforts for the return of the Iraq Museum’s artifacts and continued pressure on the illicit trade markets. After answering many questions from an enthusiastic audience, the lecture ended with a standing ovation for Dr. George.
A special reception immediately followed the lecture, held across the street at the Worcester Art Museum at 55 Salisbury Street, Worcester MA. Members of the audience were treated to hors d’eouvres and bar amidst the famous Antioch mosaics, including the “Worcester Hunt” mosaic. The entire first floor of the museum was open, free of charge, so that guests could view objects directly related to Dr. George’s talk, such as the Assyrian (Nimrud) “Winged Genius” relief while having the opportunity to personally meet with Dr. George. The free reception was generously sponsored by Unum, courtesy of Senior Vice President and Deputy Counsel Mr. J. Christopher Collins, and the Worcester Art Museum.