Iraq Museum Reopens

24 02 2009

museum
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.

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