A 3D-printed recreation of the Lion of Mosul statue which was destroyed by ISIS in 2015 is going on display at the Imperial War Museum in London.
The exhibit is being loaned by Google Arts & Culture which is partnering with the museum and Historic England on a new collaboration exploring the impact of war on culture.
Forming part of IWM’s new Culture Under Attack season, the collaboration also includes immersive online experience detailing the highlights of IWM’s new exhibition What Remains.
A colossal Assyrian guardian lion from about 860 BCE, which once stood at the entrance of the Temple of Ishtar in Nimrud, Iraq, the Lion of Mosul was destroyed while on display at the Mosul Museum, however using crowdsourced photographs, heritage preservation organisation Rekrei was able to reconstruct the lost Lion digitally.
Now, the public will have the unique opportunity to view a 3D print of the Lion, produced by Google Arts & Culture, at the Imperial War Museum’s upcoming exhibition What Remains (5 Jul – 5 Jan).
This marks the first time Google Arts & Culture will be presenting an object or artwork as part of a museum exhibition. Curated in partnership with Historic England (the public body that cares for England’s historic environment), What Remains is one of three free exhibitions that form part of IWM’s Culture Under Attack season.
The project also brings exhibition highlights to the Google Arts & Culture online platform, digitising artworks and artefacts in fascinating detail and telling the stories of those behind the scenes.
Visitors will be able to discover the historic significance of the Lion, learn about its destruction, and explore how modern technology was used to digitally reconstruct the artefact.
Those unable to visit the physical recreation of the Lion of Mosul at IWM London can explore an interactive 3D model on Google Arts & Culture website or app.
Using Google Poly, online visitors can manoeuvre the 3D model and zoom in close to study intricate details. In addition to the Lion of Mosul, visitors will also find other destroyed artefacts on the platform, including an Incense Table featuring the God Nirgul and a marble tablet dating to the 1st century CE.
Amongst the stories and dozens of artefacts available online are photographs and drawings from both IWM and Historic England’s collections, depicting the devastation to cities such as Bath, Canterbury, Exeter, Norwich and York following the Baedeker Raids.
Named after the famous German travel guides by Karl Baedeker, the Second World War raids followed Germany’s decision to target British ‘centres of culture’. There are stories on the measures taken to protect “Art in Exile” as well as detailed in-painting tours on some of the masterpieces which were taken to country homes and hidden in safe houses to see out the war.
Chance Coughenour, Preservation Lead at Google Arts & Culture, said, “Imperial War Museums and Historic England are two of our earliest partners, and it’s been an amazing experience working alongside them on this highly topical project.
“It’s been heart-breaking to see the destruction of so many unique artefacts and archeological sites in recent years, however, Culture Under Attack and the What Remains exhibition highlight the potential of technology – both in terms of digitally preserving culture and telling these amazing stories in engaging new ways.”
Carl Warner, Co-curator of What Remains andHead of Cold War and Late 20th Century at Imperial War Museums, said: “Culture has become victim of both indiscriminate and deliberate damage, especially as the line between the home front and the battlefield continues to blur.
“War has always damaged heritage, but modern warfare is particularly destructive: homes, neighbourhoods, towns and whole cities are under threat from modern shells and bombs. We hope that our Culture Under Attack season and collaboration with Google Arts & Culture invites visitors to question how we respond as individuals, communities and nations to the void often left behind.”
Duncan Wilson OBE, Chief Executive at Historic England, added: “We are delighted to have worked with IWM to co-curate the upcoming What Remains exhibition which features important images and artefacts from our Archive.
“Through Google Arts and Culture’s support in digitally showcasing the exhibition, we hope more people will engage with it and get the message outthere that protecting cultural heritage is of vital importance to us all, both in war and peace time.”