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The New Arab Staff

International consortium prepares Iraq's Mosul museum for reopening after years of IS damage

Ancient antiquities contained at the museum were destroyed by IS [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 February, 2021

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Mosul's museum is being prepared to reopen to the public within a few years' time.
The Mosul Cultural Museum in Iraq is undergoing significant rehabilitation works following damage at the hands of the Islamic State [IS] militant group, the museum and its partners announced in a statement on Friday.

The museum's building and collection will be brought back to life by a consortium comprising the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the Smithsonian Institution, World Monuments Fund (WMF), and the International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH).

"The rehabilitation of the Mosul Museum is an emblematic project for ALIPH: it is a sign of life and hope, a gesture of solidarity between international and local actors, and a magnificent human adventure, which brings together professionals from different backgrounds who are driven by the same ambition," said Valéry Freland, executive director of ALIPH.

Working together since 2018, the organisations have stabilised the museum building and collection, while also providing training and equipment for the rehabilitation. The group hopes to be able to reopen the museum to the public within a few years' time.

Mosul fell to IS group in June 2014 and was held by the militants as their Iraqi capital until it was recaptured by an international coalition in July 2017.

Under the extremists' rule, historical Muslim and Christian sites were defaced and artefacts from the Mosul Museum were looted and destroyed.

In one infamous video clip shared by the IS group in 2015, its militants were seen entering the museum and destroying statues dating from around 100 BC and AD 100. The statues were from the nearby Hatra UNESCO World Heritage site.

The full extent of the destruction of Mosul's museum and antiquities was not known until the city was liberated in 2017.

A year after the IS group's defeat in the city, Iraq's ministry of culture, tourism and antiquities requested financial support from ALIPH to rehabilitate the museum.

A first grant of $1.3 million was given by ALIPH for the museum's restoration. The Musée du Louvre and the Smithsonian Institution also joined the project to lend their expertise and support the Iraqi teams.

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