A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Iraq Museum Reopens
Volume 62 Number 3, May/June 2009
On February 23, the Iraq National Museum reopened its doors, a move that critics call politically motivated and premature. "The museum as a building is not ready," says Donny George Youkhanna, who was head of the State Board of Antiquities until August of 2006. "There are some parts of the building that leak rain water and the environmental control is almost zero." Youkhanna points out that moisture is especially damaging to the museum's collection of clay tablets and ivories.
Even those in favor of opening the museum say much work lies ahead. "The museum is not in good condition. We are not claiming perfection," Bahaa Mayah, a senior adviser to the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities writes in an e-mail. "In fact, we are seeking perfection by opening the doors to the international community to come and help us." Some of that help is coming from the Iraq Cultural Heritage Project (ICHP), a program led by the World Monuments Fund and the U.S. State Department. ICHP is training Iraqi museum curators and providing funds to restore the National Museum.
Only a few of the museum's galleries are now open and access is limited to students and VIPs, who have to make appointments. Plans for opening the museum to the public are still uncertain.Share