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National Museum of Iraq in 2008
|Collection size||170,000 – 200,000|
|Director||Ahmed Kamil Muhammad|
The National Museum of Iraq (Arabic: المتحف العراقي) is a museum located in Baghdad, Iraq. Also known as the Iraq Museum, it contains precious relics from the Mesopotamian, Babylonian and Persian civilization. It was looted during and after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. International efforts led to many stolen artifacts being returned. After being closed for many years while being refurbished, and rarely open for public viewing, the museum was officially reopened in February 2015.
After World War I, archaeologists from Europe and the United States began several excavations throughout Iraq. In an effort to keep those findings from leaving Iraq, British traveller, intelligence agent, archaeologist, and author Gertrude Bell began collecting the artifacts in a government building in Baghdad in 1922. In 1926, the Iraqi government moved the collection to a new building and established the Baghdad Antiquities Museum, with Bell as its director. Bell died later that year; the new director was Sidney Smith.
In 1966, the collection was moved again, to a two-story, 45,000-square-meter (480,000-square-foot) building in Baghdad's Al-Ṣāliḥiyyah neighborhood in the Al-Karkh district on the east side of the Tigris River. It is with this move that the name of the museum was changed to the National Museum of Iraq. It was originally known as the Baghdad Archaeological Museum.
Due to the archaeological riches of Mesopotamia, its collections are considered to be among the most important in the world and has a fine record of scholarship and display. The British connection with the museum — and with Iraq — has resulted in exhibits always being displayed bilingually, in both English and Arabic. It contains important artifacts from the over 5,000-year-long history of Mesopotamia in 28 galleries and vaults.
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