The Rebirth of the National Museum of Afghanistan

The restored entrance hall of the National Museum of Afghanistan © J. Sorosh-Wali / UNESCO

Built in the 1930s, the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul possesses rich holdings that reflect the great diversity of Afghanistan’s cultural heritage.

Since its foundation, this renowned institution has attracted the attention of many Western scholars with whom it has developed close cooperation links. In the course of the Afghan civil war, the museum was severely damaged, and a substantial part of its collections was subsequently looted and deliberately vandalized during the Taliban regime.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, a host of organizations in the cultural development sector have worked together with UNESCO to rehabilitate the National Museum of Afghanistan, including its buildings and grounds, its impressive collections, and the skills and capacities of its staff.Activities have focused on advocacy and awareness-raising strategies, project design and a dynamic fund-raising campaign. Much progress has been made in the last five years. As a result, the museum is not merely a storehouse of the finest examples of the wealth of art and archaeology of Afghanistan and Central Asia; it has regained its pre-eminent position within Afghan society as an institution bearing witness to the nation’s collective and complex historical and contemporary multi-cultural identity.

The main organizations and donors involved in the reconstruction process included UNESCO, the Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage (SPACH), the French Archaeological Delegation in Afghanistan (DAFA), the Musée Guimet in Paris, the Afghan Austrian Society, the British Museum, the National Geographic Society, British Foreign Commonwealth Office, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Hellenic Aid and the Governments of Italy, Japan and the United States of America<//a>.

  • For Further Reading: "Afghanistan: A nation at the crossroads" (UNESCO Courrier, October 2002)

    Start Date: 17-11-2001   End Date: 31-12-2007

    Lead Organization / Sector / Office: UNESCO Office  in Kabul

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