Call for Collaboration: Rebuilding the Library at the University of Baghdad
A person with long hair next to a bookcase

The Weisman Art Museum (WAM), the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC), and the Minnesota Design Center (MDC) invite University of Minnesota faculty, staff, and students to collaborate with the internationally renowned artist Wafaa Bilal and help reimagine the once-besieged library of the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad.

During the next academic year (2020–21), WAM, ICGC and the MDC will host Wafaa as a fellow. In preparation for the fellowship, Wafaa will visit the UMN campus on January 22 – 24. We invite you to meet the artist for information sessions and to brainstorm possibilities. You may choose to engage in a variety of ways, from attending a project presentation, to participating in group conversations, to one-on-one meetings with the artist. See the schedule of activities at the bottom of this email, and reach out to Boris Oicherman, Curator for Creative Collaboration at WAM ( for detailed information on ways you might engage with this work.


Project Description

During the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the College of Fine Arts at the University of Baghdad lost their entire library to looters who set fire to the collection. More than 70,000 books were destroyed. Thirteen years later, when Wafaa Bilal’s project 168:01 commenced, students at the college had only a few remnants for their study. In response, Wafaa created an artwork where gallery visitors exchanged art books for parts of the exhibit. Thus far, the project has collected and shipped over 5,000 books, and supported building a reading room for students.

All along, Wafaa worked closely with the faculty, students and artists at the University of Baghdad, who expressed the need for a new library environment that would foster creativity and social exchange. The present stage of the project focuses on imagining such an environment.


Seeking Collaboration Partners

We are seeking collaborators who will help us reimagine the library. Potential disciplines of collaborators might include, but are not limited to: architecture, social sciences, library science, art, civil and structural engineering, design, the humanities, environmental sciences, and so on. The form of collaborations will be determined in conversations between you and Wafaa, and may include participation in a collaborative team with the artist, as well as teaching opportunities, workshops, think-tanks, research initiatives, and so on. The project development will be accompanied by public programs at the Weisman Art Museum.

By joining the effort, you’ll have a unique opportunity to collaborate with one of the most innovative and daring artists working today, leading to a one-of-kind creative collaboration that transcends disciplines, geographies and cultures.

Wafaa Bilal

Schedule of Activities on January 22 – 24

Wednesday, January 22, 3:00 p.m. | Join a public presentation of the project and a conversation with Wafaa at WAM. RSVP  >>

Thursday, January 23, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. | Come have a personal conversation with Wafaa during his “Office Hours” at WAM. (Contact Boris Oicherman to coordinate a meeting.)

Friday, January 24, 12:00 p.m. | A “Brown Bag Talk” at the ICGC.




Email Boris Oicherman to get involved, to schedule a meeting, or to ask questions.