Aftershocks from the Rocking of Civilization's Cradle
In May 2003, a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (MIA) was sent into Baghdad by the U.S. Army – Cori Wegener, an ROTC commissioned officer in the Army Reserves was mobilized by the Civil Affairs Command to go to Iraq after the looting of the Iraq National Museum. “Civil Affairs is responsible in part for issues dealing with cultural property on the battlefield,” explains Wegener, who has since retired from the Reserves. “I was scheduled to go to Afghanistan with my Civil Affairs unit the summer of 2003.” Wegener received graduate degrees in political science and art history from the University of Kansas, and is curator of architecture, design, decorative arts, and sculpture at the MIA.
VW: Were you aware of the group of archaeologists and art curators led by McGuire Gibson (professor at the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago and one of the world’s leading scholars on Mesopotamia) who went to the Defense Department in January 2003, and met with then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz’s representative (Joseph Collins) to plead with them to ensure the safety of the cultural artifacts at stake? Please comment on their efforts, the response by DOD, and what played out upon the invasion. In your view, what went wrong?
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