Museums are centres for conservation, study and reflection on heritage and culture. Today they are defined as "non-profit-making, permanent institutions in the service of society and its development, and open to the public, which acquire, conserve, research, communicate and exhibit, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, material evidence of people and their environment".

They bear out a relationship with the past that attaches value to tangible traces left by our ancestors, and therefore plays a key role in fostering social cohesion.

A museum’s primary purpose is to safeguard and preserve the heritage as a whole. It carries out whatever scientific study is required to understand and establish both its meaning and its possession. But a museum’s educational mission, whatever its nature, is every bit as important as its scientific work.

In Afghanistan, the UNESCO Office in Kabul supports the Afghan museum sector, helping to rehabilitate the buildings of the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul and of the Museum of Islamic Art in Ghazni. For that purpose, funding was granted by the governments of Greece and Italy, as well as from the USA through the UNESCO regular programme. It also provides equipment for and training in collection inventorying and conservation to Afghan museum professionals, using training materials elaborated in cooperation with the International Council of Museums (ICOM).

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