Day 2: Unveiling the Triumphal Arch in Trafalgar Square

After a night literally under wraps, the arch is ready for its official unveiling at 1:00pm. The morning was busy, as teams from the IDA, Royal Holloway, Vertex Modeling, and Snap Theatre put the finishing touches on the educational activities that will take place throughout the day.

 The Arch before the official unveiling on Tuesday, April 19th

The Arch before the official unveiling on Tuesday, April 19th

At 11:30am, before the arch is even unveiled, the first theatre workshops began at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Andy Graham and his colleagues from Snap Theatre devised interactive workshops that allowed children to explore the stories of how the arch came to be, the significance of Palmyra and even to do some creative building of their own using creative techniques.

 Saif Al Aleeli speaks at the unveiling of the Million Image Database

Saif Al Aleeli speaks at the unveiling of the Million Image Database

Guests for the unveiling of the Million Image Database began arriving at noon, including representatives from the government of Dubai, and London Mayor Boris Johnson. The Million Image Database was formally unveiled by the Sheikh, Mayor Johnson and the Chief Executive Officer of the Museum of the Future, Saif Al Aleeli.

 Roger Michel speaks before the unveiling of the Arch on Trafalgar Square

Roger Michel speaks before the unveiling of the Arch on Trafalgar Square

 The Arch is unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson

The Arch is unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson

The grand unveiling took place at 1:00pm. Executive Director Roger Michel made an impassioned speech on the importance of our cultural heritage and its place in the world consciousness. He was followed by Mayor Johnson, whose speech touched on the anger felt by those around the world at the destruction of sites like Palmyra and our determination to stand up in defiance to ISIS. With that, the sheet was removed and the arch was officially open to the public. The unveiling was accompanied by a trio of musicians playing ancient Syrian music on reconstructed instruments.

See a video of the unveiling here: http://www.cnn.com/videos

 Visitors to the Educational Marquee

Visitors to the Educational Marquee

As the day progressed, thousands of people saw the arch, touched it, took pictures with it, and visited the educational marquee to discuss the project and its implications with members of the IDA. The response was overwhelming. We were particularly touched by the number of people who wanted to have frank discussions about reconstruction and restoration. The goal of the IDA was to start a conversation about the importance of cultural heritage, and it was exciting to see so many people react in this way!