Efforts under way to restore historic Mosul museum

With assistance from the international community, the museum is scheduled to reopen in 2026

A worker reassembles an artefact destroyed by ISIS at the Mosul museum in Iraq. AFP
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Efforts are under way to fully restore Mosul's museum, which was severely damaged when the city was taken over by ISIS in 2014.

With assistance from the international community, the museum is scheduled to reopen in 2026, with construction having begun earlier this year.

Iraqi Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Ahmed Fakkak Al Badrani visited the museum and other cultural sites in the city on Saturday to inspect the restoration works being carried out.

Pictures circulated on social media showed museum employees reassembling and reorganising artefacts destroyed by ISIS.

The historic site's rehabilitation represents the revival of a city that fell under the control of violent extremists in 2014.

A year after the terror group took over the city, ISIS made the museum a target, with videos and images showing militants using sledgehammers and drills to destroy prized ancient artefacts.

The museum was also the target of mortar shells and experienced two fires. One was lit in the library, destroying 25,000 manuscripts.

The basement was also flooded and live ordnance and mines lay amid the rubble of the building.

No one could enter the museum before the Iraqi military demined it.

Designed by the late architect Mohamed Makiya, the museum first opened in 1952 with the aim of telling the story of the diverse and rich history of northern Iraq.

Iraq's rich heritage has suffered during the many conflicts that have hit the country, and efforts to restore museums and cultural sites as well as repatriate artefacts are continuing.

In 2021, ancient artefacts looted and smuggled out of Iraq after the US invasion in 2003 were put on display in Baghdad.

The artefacts included a 3,500-year-old clay tablet bearing part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the ancient Sumerian tale believed to be one of the world's first pieces of literature.

Updated: September 25, 2023, 4:56 PM