The Mosul Cultural Museum has inaugurated the latest phase in its restoration plans, alongside the announcement of a new exhibition.
The rehabilitation project continues a joint effort launched in 2018, following Mosul’s capture and the looting of the museum by Daesh in 2014, and led by an international consortium consisting of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), the Musée du Louvre, the Smithsonian Institution, the International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH) and the World Monuments Fund (WMF).
During the Daesh attack, major Assyrian monumental works were damaged or destroyed including a colossal lion from Nimrud, two lamassu (guardian) figures, the significant Banquet Stele, the throne base of King Ashurnasirpal II and more than 28,000 books and rare manuscripts.
The Musée du Louvre is working with MCM staff to reconstruct three major stone sculptures (the Banquet Stele, the throne base and the lion of Nimrud) and fragments of metal plaques recovered from the site of Balawat. World Monuments Fund (WMF), which joined the effort in 2020, is overseeing the architectural conservation of the building. ALIPH supports and funds the project.
The new restoration phase will honour the original vision of the museum’s architect Mohamed Makiya and has been conceived with the SBAH in collaboration with Iraqi and international experts, including London-based Donald Insall Associates, led by architect Tanvir Hasan. The museum’s garden will be revived by the Lebanese-Iraqi architect Dr Jala Makhzoumi.
Following the new stage in the project, the museum will display objects saved from destruction when they were moved to the Iraq Museum, Baghdad, before the start of the Iraq War in 2003, in addition to artifacts from ongoing archeological excavations. The footprint of a bomb detonation in the central Assyrian gallery will also be on view, preserving the memory of the most devastating damage the museum sustained during the attack.
Mosul Cultural Museum: From Destruction to Rehabilitation
Entitled The Mosul Cultural Museum: From Destruction to Rehabilitation, the new exhibition explores the past, present and future of the museum. Curated by director Zaid Ghazi Saadallah, in partnership with the Musée du Louvre and funded by ALIPH, it traces the origins of the institution and what its collections illustrated about northern Iraq, through extensive research drawing from the collection, documentation, texts, images and archives. The exhibition also documents the restoration process of the museum and presents the vision for its future through never-before-seen photographs, videos and 3D models.
The Mosul Cultural Museum: From Destruction to Rehabilitation runs from 12 May to 1 June in the Mosul Cultural Museum Royal Hall and online via this link.