Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul

Sackler, gallery 28

Journey to three cities in the Middle East—Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq—in this virtual exhibition organized by the Arab World Institute, Paris, and created in collaboration with UNESCO. These cities, among the oldest uninterrupted human settlements in the world, have recently been devastated by war. To preserve these sites for future generations, Age Old Cities offers large-scale projections and digital reconstructions (more than eleven feet tall) of iconic monuments and ancient structures rising from ruins to their former glory. The dynamic images in this immersive experience underscore the critical importance of cultural heritage and architectural preservation as well as the vital role digital reconstruction can play in safeguarding the past.

Read a profile on Age Old Cities and its development at the Institute du monde arabe published in the latest volume of Ars Orientalis, our academic journal co-produced with the University of Michigan. In Washington, D.C, the exhibition will focus on the sites in Syria and Iraq.

Age Old Cities VR

Created for the Arab World Institute, Paris, ​the Age Old Cities virtual reality experience features six iconic monuments from across the Arab world: Palmyra’s Temple of Baalshamin and Aleppo’s souk in Syria; Leptis Magna’s basilica in Libya; and the Al-Nuri Mosque, the Nabi Yunus tunnels, and the Church of Our Lady of the Hour in Mosul, Iraq. Ubisoft partnered with Iconem, UNESCO, and the University of Lausanne to design these immersive and lifelike reconstructions.

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Reviews & Press

Read Mel Madarang’s ABC News piece “New Smithsonian exhibit takes people through ancient Arab cities destroyed by war and ISIS”

See what “WETA Around Town” thinks about Age Old Cities: A Virtual Journey from Palmyra to Mosul

Read Nadine Daher’s Smithsonian Magazine article “Take a (Virtual) Walk through These War-Torn Ancient Cities”

Read Vanessa Larson’s Washington Post art review “At the Sackler Gallery, take a virtual-reality tour of cities ravaged by ISIS” (subscription required)

Exhibition created by the Arab World Institute, Paris, in collaboration with Iconem and in partnership with UNESCO and Ubisoft, with support from the University of Lausanne and L’Oeuvre d’Orient.

Logos of Institut du Monde Arabe, iconem, UNESCO, Ubiscoft, UNIL and L'Oevre d'Orient

Image credit: Iconem – DOA – MAFL – La mécanique du plastique