Iraqi, Syrian guides bring views to Philadelphia museum

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Moumena Saradar, left, originally from Syria, guides visitors through the Middle East gallery at Penn Museum, in Philadelphia. (AP)
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Part of the Middle East gallery is displayed at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is opening the galleries to showcase previously undisplayed items, and is making the artifacts more relatable by adding guides native to those parts of the world. (AP)
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Abdulhadi Al-Karfawi guides visitors though the Middle East gallery in the Penn Museum, in Philadelphia. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is in the midst of dramatic renovations, opening new galleries to showcase previously undisplayed items. (AP)
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A wall panel of glazed terra-cotta, from a Sufi monastery in Iran, circa 1400 to 1520 BCE, hangs in the Middle East Galleries at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. (AP)
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The headdress and jewelry of Queen Puabi dating to some 4,500 years ago, is displayed at the Middle East gallery in the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is in the midst of dramatic renovations, opening new galleries to showcase previously undisplayed items, telling the stories of those artifacts in more relatable ways and adding guides native to the parts of the world being showcased. (AP)
Updated 20 May 2018
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Iraqi, Syrian guides bring views to Philadelphia museum

PHILADELPHIA: Three Iraqi natives and a Syrian woman have been enlisted as guides to share a modern cultural perspective with visitors to new Middle Eastern galleries at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia.
The guides intersperse personal stories with historic content as they lead groups through the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s new galleries that tell tales going back 10,000 years.
“People really have trouble understanding and connecting with objects from the ancient past,” said Ellen M. Owens, Penn Museum’s Merle-Smith director of learning programs. “People who come from these places, even in contemporary times, can find a connection with the objects and they provide an interesting window into what it’s like to walk through these magnificent ancient ziggurats or visit a marketplace where traditions go back thousands of years.”
On a recent tour, guide Abdulhadi Al-Karfawi pointed out cuneiform tablets used for accounting, legal text and, in one case, a school boy’s recounting of an argument with his father. Using a blunt reed on a clay tablet, the boy detailed how his father had scolded him, saying “Why are you wasting time? Get to school! Apply yourself at school!“
“I read that and think of my father, who was a tough person who had 15 boys and girls but was on top of everything,” said Al-Karfawi, 40, a former translator for the US Army in Baghdad who settled in the US with his wife and children last year. “Today, as a father, I have the same argument with my kid. I never thought it was happening thousands of years ago.”
In another part of the galleries, Moumena Saradar, 41, paused in front of bronze and brass balance scales and weights dating back to the 1800s. The scales are similar to the ones used at the market near her home in Damascus. Saradar remembers when, as a teenager, her mother taught her to use the scales so she could double check the weights of the fruits and vegetables she’d purchased from a vendor.
“Because if he cheats her, everyone in the town would know,” Saradar said, drawing laughter.
Rusty Baker, executive director of the non-profit advocacy group PA Museums, said programs like the Penn Museum’s Global Guides provide visitors with a richer experience and could help grow audiences. At Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary historic site, former prisoners and guards lead tours, he said, while some tribal museums feature Native Americans guides.
“Museums have been looking at demographics and asking, ‘Who is not here and how do we do something about that?’” Baker said. “These programs are an opportunity to provide a more authentic experience as opposed to a typical tour with a docent who is knowledgeable and passionate but not culturally connected.”
Penn Museum will continue to expand the Global Guides program, Owens said, as it opens two new galleries showcasing Mexico/Central America and Africa in the next year. The museum is working with two organizations that help new immigrants to find trainees.
Part of that training includes discussing provenance and how guides feel about seeing objects from their home countries on display in the US Guides in the current group say they are happy to have pieces of their old homeland in their new one
“Every time I go through the gallery, I feel like this is Iraq,” Al-Karfawi said. “My grandma wore a headpiece like (Queen Puabi). . The dishes are so lovely and they remind me of my sister serving food.”
Saradar said she saw the exhibit as a way to build cultural understanding.
“This is the best thing I could do, being a messenger for my culture. I wouldn’t be able to do that without these objects,” she said. “I’m finding connections between your people and my people.”
After taking Al-Karfawi’s tour, Lalaine Little said she enjoyed hearing his personal story of sleeping on rooftop mattresses with his family during the hottest nights.
“There’s something universal about a family camping out, looking at the stars,” said Little, director of the Pauly Friedman Art Gallery at Misericordia University. “This experience felt very authentic. Sometimes you go on these tours and there are somewhat canned responses (from guides), but his were very heartfelt. He’s not repeating what he learned in training. He’s talking about his heritage because he’s very proud of it.”


Bride chooses Elie Saab as ‘Game of Thrones’ stars wed

Updated 24 June 2018
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Bride chooses Elie Saab as ‘Game of Thrones’ stars wed

DUBAI: Former “Game of Thrones” co-stars Kit Harington and Rose Leslie married Saturday with a church service and a celebration at the bride’s ancestral castle in Scotland.
Leslie looked ethereal in an ivory lace and tulle gown by Elie Saab, with a white floral headpiece worn under a whimsical veil.
The couple and guests arrived for the afternoon service at Rayne Church, close to the 900-year-old Wardhill Castle in northeast Scotland, which is owned by Leslie’s family. Harington, wearing a morning suit, and Leslie smiled at members of the public who had gathered outside the church.
Guests included the pair’s “Game of Thrones” co-stars Peter Dinklage, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner and Emilia Clarke, AP reported.
Leslie was walked into the church by her father Sebastian Leslie, an Aberdeenshire councilor and the chief of the ancient Leslie Clan, who wore a traditional Scottish kilt.
Later, the newlyweds were showered with rose petal confetti as they left the church and drove off in a Land Rover festooned with “Just Married” signs to a reception on the castle grounds.

#roseleslie #wedding #kitharington #couple

A post shared by Rose Leslie (@roseleslie_got) on

Harington and Leslie, who are both 31, met in 2012 on the set of the HBO fantasy series, where they played a couple as the characters Jon Snow and Ygritte. Leslie left the cast in 2014 and currently stars in US legal drama “The Good Fight.”
Harington credits Iceland as the backdrop to the beginning of their love story.
“Because the country is beautiful, because the Northern Lights are magical and because it was there that I fell in love,” he told L’Uomo Vogue last year. “If you’re already attracted to someone and then they play your love interest in the show, it’s becomes very easy to fall in love.”
In an interview with The Telegraph in June 2016, Leslie opened up about the relationship.
“He’s not a confrontational person so we don’t ever blow off steam,” she shared. “(He’s) a great man. I’m very proud of him. There’s an understanding that comes with the job, an understanding of being busy and when you have to say, ‘Sorry, I’m just going to bugger off for two months to film.’”
The couple announced their engagement with a notice in the Times of London newspaper in September.
“The engagement is announced between Kit, younger son of David and Deborah Harrington of Worcestershire, and Rose, middle daughter of Sebastian and Candy Leslie of Aberdeenshire,” the announcement read.
“We are absolutely thrilled for Kit and Rose to be marrying today,” Leslie’s father told assembled reporters before the ceremony. “It’s an absolutely lovely day for us.”