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29. Change and Experimentation with Paul Collins

Hello and welcome to the 4th episode in this season of The Wonder House! This series focuses on the Nahrein Network, which is an incredible project that fosters the sustainable development of history, cultural heritage and the humanities in Iraq and its neighbours in the Middle East. I think it is one of the most meaningful people-centred projects running today that is already leading to lasting change.

In this episode, I speak to Paul Collins, Jaleh Hearn Curator for Ancient Near East at the Ashmolean Museum and a Hugh Price Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. Paul is also Co-Director of the Nahrein Network and Chair of the British Institute for the Study of Iraq, the UK’s only institution dedicated to advancing research and public education on Iraq in all areas of the arts, humanities and social sciences.

For me, one of the key points in this episode revolves around change and experimentation. Nothing stays the same and it’s so important to embrace – and create – opportunities to update, challenge and experiment with our permanent museum displays. This is what Paul has been doing throughout his career, including most recently at the Ashmolean. His work in collaboration with colleagues, here in the UK as well as abroad, and members of the Middle Eastern diaspora is challenging his institution and the rest of us to tell stories that actually resonate with our lives today and also enable us to find common ground with those people who lived in the past.

I’ve included a photo gallery of images from the exhibition Owning the Past: From Mesopotamia to Iraq and the newly refurbished Ancient Middle East Gallery.

Follow Paul on Twitter @P_T_Collins

You can follow The Nahrein Network on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & YouTube

The Nahrein Network has supported the production of this series. The Network  was funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and Global Challenges Research Fund until September 2021 and now by a generous philanthropic gift to UCL.

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