Iraq Museum That Was Looted Reopens, Far From Whole
BAGHDAD — Well over half the exhibition halls in Iraq’s National Museum are closed, darkened and in disrepair. And yet the museum, whose looting in 2003 became a symbol of the chaos that followed the American invasion, officially reopened on Monday.
Thousands of works from its collection of antiquities and art — some of civilization’s earliest objects — remain lost.
The smell of fresh paint infuses the Room of Treasures, which even now is deemed safe enough for only photographs of the intricate gold and gem-studded jewelry made in Nimrud nearly 3,000 years ago, not the real thing.
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki pushed to reopen the museum, against the advice of his own Culture Ministry, as a sign of Iraqi progress. Symbol it was, and symbol it remains — not only of how much Iraq has improved, but of how far it has to go.