Iraqi museum works toward reopening

Iraqi officials on May 11 said Mosul's once-celebrated museum had entered the final stages of restorations ahead of a planned 2026 reopening after being closed to the public for 20 years.

The museum closed its doors in 2003, amid the chaos following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and was later ransacked by Islamic State group jihadists after they seized the city in 2014.

"We are celebrating today, in the city of two springs, the launch of the Mosul Museum's rehabilitation project," the director of Iraq's antiquities authority, Laith Majid, said at a press conference.

"This museum, an icon of museums in Iraq, was targeted by a blind barbarian assault," Majid said, referring to the destruction by ISIL.

The jihadists used sledgehammers and power tools to deface ancient statues and pre-Islamic treasures housed in the museum, releasing an infamous video showing the destruction in 2015.

A gaping hole remains in the floor of the museum's famed Assyrian gallery, caused by a bomb explosion.

"Part of this cavity will be preserved, as a witness throughout history to what has been perpetrated," said Khair al-Din Ahmed Nasser, head of antiquities in Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital.

A new display was inaugurated, showcasing the museum's history, collection and current restoration plans, as part of efforts supported by France's Louvre Museum, the Smithsonian Institute and the World Monument Fund.

It comes within the "second and final phase" of the "total reconstruction and rehabilitation of the museum building" and should be completed within two or three years, said Nasser.

Among the pieces defaced by ISIL and under restoration at the museum are treasures from the ancient Assyrian site of Nimrud,...

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