Long road to Kabul
Afghanistan opens more of war-torn museum
By Martin Bailey. Museums, Issue 222, March 2011
Published online: 10 March 2011
KABUL. As its treasures tour the world’s museums, the war-torn National Museum of Afghanistan is gradually being restored. Mohammad Mohibzadah, the deputy director of the museum, revealed on a visit to London that “two more galleries with antiquities will open to visitors within the next six months”. A final gallery, for coins, is being planned.
Nearly three quarters of the collection was lost and the museum building was left a shell following severe damage and looting during the civil war in the 1990s and the destruction wrought by the Taliban in 2001. The museum, established in 1922 in Darulaman, 9km south-west of the centre of Kabul, reopened in 2004. Five galleries are currently open and the museum has 200,000 visitors a year.
Poor security and environmental conditions mean that valuable or vulnerable objects cannot be shown. Many important archaeological finds are currently on an international tour. “Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World”, which is due to open at the British Museum this month (3 March to 3 July), includes the gold treasure of Tillya Tepe (see p76).
The tour has so far brought in fees of $2.25m for the Afghanistan government, although it remains unclear how much of this has been passed on to the museum. The travelling exhibition opened in Paris in 2006 and has since gone to Italy, Holland, the US and Canada. After London, further venues are being negotiated in Spain, Austria, Greece, Russia, Japan and Korea.
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