Iraq gets a lot of bad press. As usual with far-off countries, we only hear about them on the news when something goes wrong, and a lot has been going wrong in Iraq for the past few decades.
As usual, though, the news doesn’t tell the whole story. Iraq may be home to the 21st century’s most psychotic religious group and countless warring factions, but you can also find decent people and bastions of culture. The Iraqi intelligentsia fights a peaceful daily struggle to keep the nation’s culture and history alive.
Nowhere is this more clear than at the National Museum of Iraq. Like the Iraqi people, it’s a survivor, having withstood sanctions, invasion, and looting. That it’s survived at all shows just how dedicated its staff is to preserving humanity’s past.
Back in 2012 I traveled to Iraq to write about it for the now-moribund travel blog Gadling. Click the link to read the series. Sadly, the photo galleries have been taken offline, but you can still read the articles for the moment.
One of the highlights was early in my trip when I got to visit the museum. Back then it was going through a full restoration to update the exhibits and add more explanatory text, better lighting, and modern preservation techniques. The museum is now open for VIPs and school groups. Hopefully the security situation will improve enough that it can be open to the general public once again.
Damn,I’d love to go here.
During the our first Iraq war, one of my college professors made the news by contacting Saddam Hussein and offering to be a human shield at important archeological sites. He was worried that the US and its allies would bomb without regard to antiquity. At the time, this seemed like one of his nuttier quirks, sort of like his insistence that if we cared about writing well, we would all eschew word processors in favor of manual typewriters, only more so. But now that we’ve seen some of those sites destroyed and many important artifacts looted, he seems prescient.