Honoring Iraqi Academics

Opening January 18, 2023 in the Old Capitol Museum's Hanson Gallery.

The Pentacrest Museums are honored to present Shadow and Light: Honoring Iraqi Academics with hopes of creating space for contemplation and reflection of academic freedom, intellectual bravery, and international solidarity.

The Shadow and Light installation is a compilation of 30 photographs accompanied by personalized narratives, each memorializing one of the more than 700 Iraqi academics assassinated between 2003-2012. The exhibition features the stories of educators, scholars, and artists whose lives were lost to violence prompted by the U.S. led invasion, occupation, and resulting targeted violence in Iraq. 

“During their lifetimes, the men and women memorialized in this exhibit enriched diverse fields of knowledge —from history to calligraphy to the study of bees. Each assassination represented an attack on the underlying principle of education—to share knowledge—and served as a threat to scholars throughout Iraq that they were at risk.”   

—Beau Beausoleil, Project Director, and
UC Santa Barbara Library Curators Mona Damluji and Heather Hughes.

The work exhibited was compiled by Beau Beausoleil, a poet and activist in the Bay Area. Beau is the founder (in 2007) of an international project that has used art and writing to address the implications of the car bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street (the street of the booksellers) in March of 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq. He is the author of 15 books of poetry including a volume entitled, Letters to Iraq (Intermittent Press -2020), written in response and solidarity with the October 2019 Revolution in Iraq.

To create the project, Beau collaborated with artists from all over the world to pick a name of an assassinated Iraqi academic to memorialize with a photograph and a personal narrative. The Pentacrest Museums further collaborated with Beau on a selection of these individuals to be commemorated at the Old Capitol Museum.


  • The exhibition will be open to the public with free admission for self-guided tours during regular hours at the Old Capitol Museum, Wednesday - Saturday 10a - 5p. 
  • If this exhibit supports the curriculum and goals of your class and you wish to tour a group through, please arrange your visit through our Visitor Services Coordinator.

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Webpage cover photo by Tariq Dajani (Jordan), "Fallen Tree" -- Shadow and Light exhibition