Schuylkill Center brings first Iraqi Mudhif to the U.S.A

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education in Philadelphia has a new outdoor art installation, Al-Mudhif - A Confluence, which opens to the public on Thursday, June 24 at 7 p.m. 

Since the beginning of June, volunteers, Iraqi immigrants and U.S. Veterans of the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan have helped build the Iraqi guesthouse, called a mudhif, on the grounds of the Schuylkill Center. The intent was to use the construction process to heal from the twin traumas of war and displacement. This unusual environmental art structure is the first built in North America and outside of Iraq. 

The mudhif is made entirely of the wetland grass phragmites. This invasive reed is abundant in the Delaware River watershed and is culturally and environmentally important to the marshlands in Southern Iraq. Mudhifs are one of the oldest known nature-based, monumental buildings that date back more than 5,000 years to the cradle of civilization in Southern Iraq (Mesopotamia). Today they are still in use for town gatherings and ceremonies but also a place where conflicting parties go to discuss and resolve their differences. 

“The Schuylkill Center is so excited to present Al-Mudhif to the region,” says Mike Weilbacher, the Schuylkill Center’s Executive Director. “That the first mudhif ever built outside of Iraq comes to Roxborough, PA is remarkable. And that this is our very first in-person public event since March 2020 is also a wonderful confluence.” The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is located at 8480 Hagy’s Mill Road in Philadelphia. Admission is free.

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