Berlin Offers Conservation Assistance to Iraq Amid ISIS Destruction, US Programs Aid in Museum Re-Opening

ISIS militants are shown smashing priceless sculptures on video.
ISIS militants are shown smashing priceless sculptures on video. Screenshot via YouTube.

Berlin’s Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation has offered Iraq assistance in the protection and conservation of its cultural objects, Art Magazin reports.

The foundation’s president, Hermann Parzinger, said “We must help them to help themselves.” The Museum of the Ancient Near East in Berlin already has a program in place enabling restorers working in conflict zones to learn special restoration techniques. The foundation is also planning a bilateral exchange program to aid the transfer of know-how. “We have a responsibility to our colleagues in Syria and Iraq,” Parzinger emphasized.

Speaking to the German press agency DPA, Parzinger said that Syria and Iraq needed the solidarity of the international community and called for the creation of an international fund to finance the necessary restoration. “Our challenge is to explain what was destroyed, what is under threat, and what can be done to prevent such destruction in the future.”

“The protection of threatened cultural property and heritage sites must find its way onto the agenda of international politics,” Parzinger said, adding that the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation supported UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova’s call for a special meeting of the UN Security Council on the “cultural cleansing” of Iraq and Syria (see UNESCO Chief Decries ISIS “Cultural Cleansing” in Erbil Speech).

An additional source of aid to Iraq’s museums has come from US-based public and private organizations, who have also played a role in the re-opening of Iraq’s national museum in Baghdad, 12 years after it was closed in the aftermath of the US-led invasion (see Baghdad’s National Museum of Iraq Re-Opens In Response to ISIS’s Destruction of Statues in Mosul). The National Endowment for the Humanities, USAID, and other agencies have helped Iraq in rebuilding its museums and preserving its cultural heritage.


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