ROM Fall Programming Highlights - Mesopotamia


       Robbing the Cradle of Civilization
Symposium addressing the dangers facing the art & archaeology of Mesopotamia is among the programs complementing ROM exhibitions.


Photo of Iraq National Museum (Toronto, Ontario, September 24, 2013) – Since its June 2013 opening at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World has inspired provocative and relevant programming. Now, with the change of season, the ROM’s slate of courses, lectures, and special events highlighting the exhibition kicks into high gear. Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World is presented at the ROM by RSA Insurance,

 “Mesopotamia has had a profound influence on today’s world, and our exhibition-related programming is an outstanding opportunity for ROM Ancient Cultures to highlight the relevance of this important ancient civilization”, explains Rae Ostman, Managing Director of ROM Ancient Cultures.

On Saturday, October 19 and Sunday, October 20, the ROM hosts a  symposium addressing the contemporary topic of “Robbing the Cradle of Civilization: Preserving the Art and Archaeology of Mesopotamia”.  Ostman continues, “Unfortunately, current events in the region that encompasses ancient Mesopotamia also forcefully underscore the essential work needed to protect our common cultural heritage.” Dr. Clemens Reichel, ROM Associate Curator of Ancient Cultures and the Museum’s expert on ancient Mesopotamia, moderates the symposium’s internationally renowned archaeologists, historians, and professors. While the human toll is certainly the greatest consequence of war, the symposium makes clear that other casualties of conflict include the rampant damage and looting of archaeological sites and museums. Considering recent and ongoing events in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of what was ancient Mesopotamia, the symposium’s themes could not be more relevant. The event’s experts seek to understand what has occurred and identify how best to protect the archaeological record for the future.

The Looting of the Iraq Museum: A Conversation with Colonel Matthew Bogdanos (US Marine Officer  and  author of Thieves of Baghdad) and Dr. McGuire Gibson” (Professor of Mesopotamian Archaeology at the University of Chicago), takes place on Saturday evening. Looking in depth at the lessons learned from the extensive museum lootings in Iraq, this key note discussion includes an update on recovered artifacts, questions whether anything has changed over the last 10 years, and sets the stage for the next day’s discussion.

The symposium’s panel of speakers includes Lawrence Rothfield, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of Chicago and Faculty Director, Cultural Policy Center; John Curtis,  Keeper of Middle East Collections at the British Museum; Patty Gerstenblith, founding president of the Lawyer’s Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation; and Morag Kersel,  Assistant Professor of Anthropology, DePaul University.

Pricing for the symposium:  

Symposium & Keynote Event Combo: General Public: $80; ROM Member/Student: $75

Keynote Event Only General Public: $60; ROM Member: $55; Student: $40

More adult programming

Featuring world renowned experts addressing many of the exhibition’s themes, the Explore: Mesopotamia lecture series continues through the exhibition’s engagement. The December 4 lecture is presented in French by University of Toronto professor Paul-Alain Beaulieu.

We are pleased that courses are back at the ROM. This fall we offer numerous four-week courses covering a wide range of topics. These include several inspired by Mesopotamia, including Emerging Cities, Emerging Art: Mesopotamian Architecture and Art .
Fall brings a bounty of other programming highlighting the ROM’s Mesopotamia engagement. On Wednesday, September 25 at 11:00 am, the Museum’s ongoing Contexts series features exhibition Assistant Curator Tracy Spurrier providing a behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition’s creation at the ROM. Included with ROM admission, the Contexts series is supported by The Currelly Society.

Friday Night Live (FNL) returns for its fourth season on October 18. During its eight week season, the city’s singular social destination will shout out to Mesopotamia in numerous ways. That the ancient civilization has been credited with inventing beer makes the exhibition a very good FNL fit!

Family programming

Mesopotamia Family Weekend allows the whole family to explore the links between our culture and that of ancient Mesopotamia. Special games, creative crafts and a ton of hands-on activities reveal surprising connections! Taking place on Saturday, September 28 and Sunday, September 29, all activities are included with ROM admission.

The overnight sensation, ROM Sleepovers goes ancient Mesopotamia, starting on Friday, October 4 at 5:00 pm. Providing families and groups the ultimate ROM backstage pass, this program is geared to children five years and older, accompanied by an adult.

The ROM is a proud to be a collaborating organization for International Archaeology Day, the day on which we are all encouraged to explore archaeology around the world through hands-on activities, crafts, ancient objects, and more. Taking place on Saturday, October 19, experts from the ROM and other organizations share how archaeologists excavate; the kinds of artifacts they discover; and the methods by which they study them in the lab. The event will allow visitors to learn about ongoing research projects and play-test brand-new video games that bring the ancient world to life - all created at the ROM during its recent Game Jam. Included with admission, this special day is organized by the Archaeological Institute of America.

In Family Workshops: Mesopotamia, children five years and older accompanied by an adult, can explore a day in the life of a powerful Mesopotamian king. The afternoon includes a special visit to the exhibit and learning that ruling was hard work, and military, civil, and social duties were highly demanding.

For more information on these and other ROM programs, including costs and registration, please call 416.586.5797 or write to

Exhibitions at the ROM

Exploring over 3,000 years of accomplishments of this ancient civilization to reveal the significance many still have on our lives today, Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World features over 170 priceless objects from the esteemed holdings of the British Museum. These artifacts, most of which have never been seen in Canada, are augmented by iconic objects from the ROM’s own renowned collections and other leading institutions, including the University of Chicago Oriental Institute Museum, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum, Philadelphia), and Detroit Institute of Arts. Widely credited with the invention or development of writing, long-distance communication, law, trade networks, and the first empires, Mesopotamian society also launched and advanced literature and sophisticated art, alongside great intellectual, spiritual, and scientific advances. These achievements still influence us today.  The ROM is the sole Canadian, and premiere North American, venue to host the internationally touring exhibition. Mesopotamia is presented by the British Museum in collaboration with the ROM. Sarah Collins, the British Museum’s curator for Early Mesopotamia, is the curator of the internationally touring exhibition.                                                                              

Mesopotamia is complemented by the ROM’s concurrent engagement of Catastrophe! Ten Years Later: The Looting and Destruction of Iraq's Past. Developed, written and produced at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, the recently updated display looks at the extensive looting of Iraq’s museums and archaeological sites in April 2003. In the absence of artifacts, the display’s text and images powerfully communicate the war’s tragic effects and the continued impact on Iraq’s cultural heritage.

ROM Ancient Cultures

ROM Ancient Cultures seeks to be recognized globally as an essential destination for making sense of how past societies inform our lives and help us plan for the future. Assembling collections and expertise from the ROM Department of World Cultures, in partnership with the ROM’s Programs, Education, volunteers, Friends groups and Museum users, this Centre will provide a focal point for research, programs and activities related to Ancient Cultures and Archaeology at the ROM and in the community. Follow @ROMAncient.

Mesopotamia is presented by the British Museum in collaboration with the Royal Ontario Museum.

                    Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World is on display at the ROM only until January 5, 2014.