Museum of Exile: Assyrian Youth in Chicago is a 12-minute HD documentary film that tells the story of refugee teenagers from Iraq who go to Niles West High School in Skokie, and their field trip to the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago. Rediscovering their cultural heritage in the collection of Assyrian art at the museum, the refugee teenagers regain their pride and identity undermined during the Iraq War and throughout their exile from Jordan to America.
The documentary brings ancient Assyrian art to life as a human experience and connects contemporary viewers to the legacy of ancient Mesopotamian civilization. Assyria was the first empire to unify the Orient. Sculpture was the art most highly developed in the empire. The film looks at the ruthless war scenes depicted in low relief through the eyes of the refugee teenagers. Kings and soldiers begin to move in their imagination. Students identify themselves with the characters in the ancient artwork based on their own war experiences.