Come Together: American Artists Respond to Al-Mutanabbi Street

The Smithsonian Libraries opens “Come Together: American Artists Respond to Al-Mutanabbi Street,” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library beginning Feb. 1. “Come Together” will be on display through March 30, 2016.

Al-Mutanabbi Street is the historic center of bookselling in Baghdad, Iraq, and has been the heart and soul of the Baghdad literary and intellectual community for centuries. On March 5, 2007, a car bomb exploded on Al-Mutanabbi Street, and more than 130 people were killed or wounded. In response to the attack, a community of international artists and writers produced poetry, letterpress-printed broadsides and artists’ books.

“Come Together” will display artists’ books and prints by American artists, showing support for the booksellers, writers and readers affected by the tragedy, as well as reflecting on the loss of cultural expressions. More than 20 artworks will be featured, including works by poets and artists such as Maria Pisano, Robbin Ami Silverberg, David Allen Sullivan and Barbara Tetenbaum.

“Come Together” is showcased in conjunction with Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016, a book arts cultural festival commemorating the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic Al-Mutanabbi booksellers street. Partners include George Mason University’s School of Art and George Mason University Libraries, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at The George Washington University, Georgetown University and Cultural DC.

The Smithsonian Libraries places a high value on connecting, collaborating and advancing knowledge across disciplines and information boundaries. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project embraces ideas that the Smithsonian Libraries esteems: freedom to read, access to books and information and celebration of the free exchange of ideas and knowledge. You can see more on this project, including images, through Smithsonian Global. 

The Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery Library is located at 750 9th Street N.W., Suite 2100.

Public Program

The Smithsonian Libraries will host the Ninth Annual Commemorative Reading on March 5 at 6 p.m. in the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery’s McEvoy Auditorium, 8th and G Streets N.W. Distinguished poets and translators, musicians and speakers will commemorate the 2007 bombing of Al-Mutannabi Street to celebrate the free exchange of ideas and knowledge and stand in solidarity with the people of Iraq and everywhere where freedom of expression is threatened.