Syria's National Museum re-opens after six years of civil war

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In a ceremony attended by archaeologists and restoration specialists, authorities re-opened Syria's National Museum of Damascus this Sunday, after six years of military conflict. Representatives of the government represented this as a milestone in the return to normalcy after recent victories in Syria's civil war.

The National Museum of Damascus.
Image: Aziz1005.

The museum displays include archaeological exhibits dating back to prehistoric times, cloth from the ancient city of Palmyra, and live demonstrations of restoration of pieces damaged during the war.

The Syrian Minister of Culture, Mohamed al-Ahmad, said in a speech, "The opening of the museum is a genuine message that Syria is still here and her heritage, would not be affected by terrorism [...] Today, Damascus has recovered."

The war in Syria, which has claimed reportedly over 350,000 lives, began in 2011, and the museum was closed in 2012, though the gardens remained open to the public. Authorities managed to remove and store reportedly about 300,000 cultural artifacts. Various sites were destroyed in the conflict. Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was taken over by Islamic State and subjected to deliberate damage. According to Mahmoud Hammoud, a Syrian official in charge of antiquities and museums, several hundred thousand artifacts were also smuggled out of the country, while, as of the opening, about 9,000 artifacts had been recovered or restored.

This comes as representatives from Russia, France, Germany and Turkey met in Istanbul to discuss the Syrian conflict, amid United Nations statement that the Syrian government is delaying the writing of a new constitution for the country.