The Museums of Ghazni, Afghanistan

The minaret of Ghazni ©UNESCO/F. Rivière

Work is continuing on the restoration and rehabilitation of the Museums of Islamic and Pre-Islamic Art in Ghazni, thanks to a generous contribution from the Italian government.

The Museum of Islamic Art, situated in Rauza outside the eastern Afghan city of Ghazni, is housed in the sixteenth-century Mausoleum of Sultan Abdur Razaq and contains important Islamic artifacts from the Ghazni region excavated by successive Italian archaeological missions.

Closed since the outbreak of civil conflict in Afghanistan in the 1980s, the Mausoleum is being restored and rehabilitated under a UNESCO/Italian Funds-in-Trust project, converting it into a modern museum. The project has seen the construction of a visitor and security centre, the installation of utilities, and the consolidation of the original structure.

Working with the Afghan Department of Historical Monuments and Department of Museums, UNESCO has arranged for the site to be protected on a round-the-clock basis and for the construction of a demarcation wall protecting it from urban encroachment.

In summer 2010, a UNESCO-sponsored museum management workshop at the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul led to the organization of a new exhibition of artifacts in the Ghazni Museum of Islamic Art that focused on intercultural dialogue and the long history of the region.

The project also deals with an important collection of pre-Islamic artifacts from Ghazni, including from the neighbouring Buddhist site of Tapa Sardar. Working with the Istituto Italiano per l'Africa e l'Oriente and the Afghan Department of Historical Monuments, UNESCO has repaired the leaking roof structure of the Museum of Pre-Islamic Art and carried out essential repairs to the fabric. Important documentation work has also been undertaken on the Museum’s collections.

While the security situation in Ghazni has delayed the implementation of work in the field, training courses for conservators and managerial staff have helped to safeguard the Museum’s collections.

Despite often challenging working conditions, work is continuing on the restoration and rehabilitation of the two museums, notably in support of the Afghan government’s promotion of Ghazni as a Centre of Islamic Civilization in the region and the planned celebration of the city in 2013 under the patronage of ISESCO, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

For more information: Brendan Cassan (b.cassan(at)

                                         Nao Hayashi (n.hayashi(at)


Links:   Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

             The Rebirth of the National Museum of Afghanistan

             Successful completion of a two-year pilot project to inventory, conserve and restore collections of the National Museum of Afghanistan

             Museum-in-Exile: Swiss Foundation safeguards over 1,400 Afghan artifacts

             Film documentary on the lost treasures of the National Museum of Afghanistan


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