A new audience enjoys the spectacle of the towering
, the fabulous winged bulls of Mesopotamia and the 2,700-year-old Assyrian wall sculptures that populate the National Museum of Baghdad.
In an Iraq which is regaining a semblance of normality after decades of conflict, the institution founded in 1926 to tell the story of the country's 7000 years of history, has chained closures and reopenings in recent years, according to the upheavals of the political news.
It now opens its doors on weekends, with a free day supposed to make its collections accessible to as many people as possible.
Closed for three years from 2019, due to demonstrations and then the Covid-19 pandemic, the museum had reopened its doors in March 2022. It could be visited on weekdays, from Sunday to Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and closed Friday and Saturday.
"From today, the museum will also open every Friday to welcome Iraqi families and tourists free of charge, from 9 am to 5 pm
," director of the Iraqi Council of Antiquities, Laith Majid Hussein, told AFP. , amidst a flood of visitors.
Inherit the story
Friday morning, dozens of Iraqis, who came as a couple, with friends or even as a family with the youngest in strollers, were able to stroll through the galleries of the museum, according to an AFP correspondent.
Some took their picture in front of two
, a mythical creature half man half winged bull, discovered on the site of an Assyrian city and dating back to the 8th century BC. There are also finely carved ivory miniatures, used to decorate palaces and royal furniture, dating from the neo-Assyrian period (911-612 BC) and found on the site of Nimroud, in the north of the country.
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Ahmed Mozher, a 35-year-old lawyer, came with his wife Farah.
"It's the first time
," he admits.
One has the impression of going back in time seeing such creations, so much civilization, it's an indescribable feeling
He is delighted to see families making the trip with their children.
“It is important to teach them this history, so that it is inherited from generation to generation.”
Iraq is the cradle of the civilizations of Sumer, Akkad, Babylon and Assyria, to which humanity owes writing and the first cities.
The country suffered from looting and antiquities trafficking, after the American invasion of 2003 and then with the arrival of the Islamic State group.
The Baghdad museum was not spared from looting in 2003, in the chaos that followed the invasion against Saddam Hussein.
Of the 15,000 coins stolen at the time, the authorities were only able to return a third.
Today, despite its decaying infrastructure, Iraq is timidly opening up to world tourism.