A glance at background of National Museum of Afghanistan

For the first time, for protection of historical relics, the National Museum of Afghanistan was established in 1297 in Bagh-e- Bala area of Kabul.

In first years of establishment of this museum that in that time was nominating as Ajayeb Khana (Wonder House) only some limited number of historical relicts such as handwritten Qurans, handicrafts, some monuments and a number of seldom books were kept in it.

In Aqrab 1303, the national museum of Afghanistan was transferred from Bagh-i-Bala to the palace of Koti Baghcha of Arg of Kabul and officially inaugurated by king Amanullah Khan. Some very important persons who were attended in inauguration ceremony of national museum of Afghanistan gifted their seldom and tasted works to this museum.

Likewise, in the first constitution of Afghanistan that approved within the rule of king Amanullah Khan, and detailed article was allocated for excavation, preservation and allocation of a locality for preservation of historical relics of this country.

According to this law, it was ordered that the branch of “Excavation and Museum” to work under the supervision of Ministry of Education.

Unveiling and preservation of historical relics and their transferring to national museum was one of important works of this branch.

As the government of Afghanistan had no possibilities and human resources necessary for unveiling of historical relics, an accord was signed with government of France in this connection.

Based on this agreement, a French delegation heading by Musio Fochet to visit Afghanistan and beside Afghan excavators, he also work for unveiling and recognition of historical relics.

This agreement gave the right to Frenchmen that from two similar unveiled relics, one of them be transferred to France.

Historian and archaeologist of Afghanistan, Ahmad Ali Kohzad was one of those who was searching for historical relicts beside foreign excavators.

 Majority of historical relicts were unveiled thanks for his efforts made by him in this respect.

After the end of excavation of historical sites by Frenchman who monopolied this field, the excavators of some other countries such as Italy, Germany and former Soviet Union visited Afghanistan that their daily excavation results were transferring to museum that as a result this museum was changed one of important riches of the region.

Museum Relics:

Buddhist stone-made relics, ivories affected by Indian art, stone-made relics belong to pre-history period, bronze-made relics affected from Roman art, coins belong to various periods, statue and etc… are part of relics of national museum of Afghanistan.

Historical relicss belong to very days of Islam were another part of museum collections.

We can mention to the important manuscript of Holy Quran that is written by third caliph of Islam Osman bin-e-Affan, some verses of Holy Quran were also written by Imam Hussain and also we can mention to Holy Quran.

Written in Kufic Letters in 1344 discovered from Ghulghula city.

The manuscript of well-known poets of Dari Language were also kept in national museum.

Haft Aurang-i- Abdurrahman-i- Jami, Haft Paikar-i- Nezami Ganjawi, Hasht Behesht and Laili and Majnoon-i-Amir Khersu-i-Dehlavi that all of these works have been written and refined in 899 H. were part of litoral works of museum.

Bostan-Saadi’s calligrapher was Mir Emad, the famous calligrapher of Temurid era, collection of poems of Mirza Abdul Qader Bedel that was gifted by Emir of Bukhara to king of Afghanistan, Emir Habibullah, collection of poems of Hafez was colligraphed by Mohammad Muhsen that was written for Sultan Hussain Bayeqra and some other important litoral and artistic works of museum.

We can also mention to another important artistic work of national museum of Afghanistan that is miniature works of Ustad Kamaluddin Behzad that afterwards, the manuscripts of national museum were given to National Archive of Afghanistan.

Considering to majority of relicts unveiled in the country despite Kabul, another museum were also established in Herat, Maimana, Ghazni, Balkh, Nangarhar, Kapisa and Kandahar.

With replacement of over 4000 historical relicts, Herat museum was the richest one among others.

With occurrence of Saur 7th of 1357 Coup. D’etat, and after this, with the invasion of Afghanistan by Red Army of former Soviet Union, the museum of Afghanistan was transferred from present building of museum in Darul Aman to the building of Sardar Mohammad Naim Khan in central part of the city, that during transferring, some monuments were destroyed.

Within the government of Dr. Najibullah, the national museum of Afghanistan was transferred to Darul Aman again.

Although, less work was being done for discovery of historical relicts but, till the collapse of government of Dr. Najibullah, no any serious damage has been inflicted to museum of Kabul and all relicts of museum remained intact.

Till beginning of civil wars in Kabul city and with expansion of war inside capital, the building of museum was also used as a trench of war.

In this period, over 70 percent of worthy relics of museum that were estimating over 70000 articles were eliminated or looted.

Similarly, with taking power by Taliban in Kabul, over 25000 remaining relicts which were include of human and animal statues were demolished by them.

With taking the throne by a government in Afghanistan supported by international community in 1381, the efforts began to rehabilitate the national museum that as a result of support of international community the national museum of Afghanistan rehabilitated again and officially opened in 2004.

Likewise, for enrichment of collections of national museum, efforts have been made and those for regaining and returning of those relicts which were looted and smuggled to Pakistan and then to European countries within civil wars, was from among important programs that was taken in hand by Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan.

As a result of these efforts, the national museum of Afghanistan did to own and collect again over 30000 relicts through various channels such as legal excavation of archeology, returning of relicts from overseas, encouragement of people and confiscating of historical and cultural relicts by national security forces.

Now, with holding of exhibitions of cultural and historical relics, the national museum of Afghanistan is serving people in national and international level.   

The main activities of national museum in 1395, 1396:

The National Museum of Afghanistan is the cultural and education center that owns the pride of preservation and introduction of cultural and historical riches through holding seminars in and abroad to the world people.

With realization of the same, we can introduce the high cultural of this country to the world.

Following are the main and key achievements of national museum in 1395 solar year:

Exhibitions:

December 25. 2015- June 19. 2016: Two exhibitions were held in two national museums of Japan (National Museum of Tokyo and National Museum of Kyushu) that in first phase, the relics of national museum laid to exhibition in national museum of Kyushu and in second phase, beginning from April 12.2016 these relicts were exhibited in Tokyo museum.

In June 19.2016 that was coinciding with Jauza 30.1395 this exhibition was ended in Japan and the relicts were transferred to South Korea.

The income earned from this exhibition estimated to $249975 that is equal to Afg. 17158723 that had been included into government revenues.

Based on agreement signed between Ministry of Information and Culture of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and two national museums of South Korea (National Museum of S. Korea and National Museum of Gangue) from July 4th till November 2016. First this exhibition was held in National Museum of Korea for two months from September 26. 2016 that is coinciding with Mizan 5. 1395.

It is mentionable that from holding of exhibition in South Korea a sum of $ 250000 has been gained that included into government revenues.

It is also mentionable that after ending of exhibition in South Korea in 1395, these relics had been laid to exhibition in Museum of China palace.

-          Organizing of small exhibition from the relicts of Bronze period in National Museum.

The number of relicts was estimated to 33 pieces.

Holding of photo exhibition of Bamian - Barbadore:

40 pieces of photos from two historical sites of Bamian and Barbadore that both were registered at world cultural heritages in collaboration with UNESCO and taken place by financial support of government of Indonesia laid to exhibition for one month.

Holding Ainak Copper Mine Exhibition in Czech Republic:

The exhibition of those relicts which were discovered as a result of excavation took place in copper mine of Logar and other Buddhist sites belong to national museum was opened in Prague city of Czech.

This exhibition was held in the presence of high-ranking officials in February 4. 2016.

Based on the official demand of Czech government, the exhibition extended to four months from April 15. 2016 till September 4 of the same year.

Holding exhibition of artifacts returned from Japan:

This exhibition was held on the occasion of returning of 102 relicts from Japan.     

Those relicts were looted within civil wars from national museums and archaeological sites, were collected in Japan and preserved there.

These relicts were returned to Afghanistan again as a result of efforts made by employees of ministry of information and culture and National Museum.

Holding photo exhibition of historical places of Afghanistan:

In this exhibition, a number of photos of historical riches of Afghanistan that now are in the Republic of China were exhibited.

The purpose behind holding this exhibition was giving information about travelling and transferring of historical riches of Afghanistan around the world and the number of those who inspected the archaeological relicts of Afghanistan estimated to two million people.

This exhibition was opened in Jauza 1st. 1396 on the occasion of International Day of Museums.

Visitors:

The domestic individual visitors from national museum in 1395 solar year till date estimated to 20811 people.

Those who visited national museum as grouping estimated to 25000.

These visitors were include of university and high schools students.

The number of those who visited international exhibitions of historical riches of Afghanistan reaches to 2619832.

Domestic Revenue:

The domestic revenue of national museum from selling of entrance ticket in 1394 estimates Afs. 199900.

Domestic Revenue of national of national museum from export-duty of non-antique items in 1395 estimated to Afs. 297582.

Foreign revenues of national museums from international exhibitions of historical riches  of Afghanistan from Japan and South Korea estimated to $ 5000000 that is equivalent to Afs. 33500000.

Restoration of artifacts:

Restoration, cleaning and protection of over 1200 relics belong to various historical periods and different varieties such as: iron, bronze, wall paintings, flower etc.

Restoration of over 200 items relics in the area of Ainak copper mine by national museum professionals.

Attraction of Japan cooperation in connection with restoration of Ainak copper mine historical relics.

Registration of historical relics:

In 1391 the data- base of national museum was established with cooperation of the US Chicago university team on the basis of international standards.

This data-base enables national museum to have statistics and fixed information about its cultural and archaeological works that fortunately, this process continued till 1395 with cooperation of national museum professional members that 3402 pieces of relicts belong to various periods that are including of 22741 were registered in museum data base.

Likewise, at the end of 1395, 2191 relicts that are include of 21175 pieces of relicts includes in data-base of Arg treasures central bank.

Collection of works:

Return of 102 works from Japan in April 11.2016. These works have been collected since 2003.

Collection of 1327 works that were include of coins and other works belong to various historical periods collected from area of Ainak copper mine and 21 pieces of works were discovered and confiscated by security forces.

Capacity-building:

Participation of two employees of national museum in a workshop held in Kokyo arts university of Japan from 1 to 174 August, 2016 under the title of “Repairing cultural riches of museum management and tri-dimension photos”.

Attending of two employees of national museum in a workshop held in Indonesia for offering better services in museum management.

Holding training three-week workshop for employees of national museum work in repairing of works by Italian experts of Fabio Colombo held in 18.2. 1395 on clay-made works and wall-paintings.

-          Holding of three-week training workshop for the employees of national museum work in repairing of works by Italian experts of Fabio Colombo held in 13.4. 1395 on clay-made works and wall-paintings.

-          Holding of three-week workshop for the employees of national museum work in repairing  of works by Italian experts of Fabio Colombo held in 22.8.1395 on clay-made works and wall-paintings of Ainak copper site.

-          Signing of Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Technology University in connection with professional capacity building for national museum employees.

-          Giving-information regarding activities of national museum.

-          Publishing and making up-date of issue through website of national museum and social networks such as facebook and twitter by holding short and long-term workshops in regard with giving information through media about cultural heritages.

Greenery and Horticulture:

Plantation of hundreds saplings for expansion of green atmosphere and cleaning of museum environment in 1399 spring.

Construction:

Based on proposal of national museum, in the northern area of the latter a printing house was considered for visitors of museum that its construction work has begun in 1394 and it is possible its work to be completed within few coming months.

Challenges:

The main challenge faced by national museum is shortage of plot that based on the same, this administration is not able to render better and standardized service for compatriots.

Smuggling of relics is also another challenge before movable cultural works that unfortunately inflicted irreparable losses on cultural and historical identity of our dear country.

Main plans for 1396:

-          Holding of international exhibition of historical riches of Afghanistan in China.

-          Holding of pieces returned from Japan.

-          Development of design of new building of national museum.

-          Purchasing of ethnographical pieces belong to different tribes residing in Afghanistan with the financial assistance of Ministry of Information and Culture.

-          Collection of 2000 archaeological pieces training courses for giving awareness about cultural heritages.

As the present building of national museum is smaller, so the national museum designed new building that its initial design is made by winner of architectural competition and now, this administration is engaged to find effective and basic roadmaps to develop this plan along with its details.

Fortunately, as a protector of national worthies, the national museum administration is always making effort to serve people and gain their trust.

One of these efforts is keeping open of national museum in Fridays from 8 O’clock am till 12 O’clock noon and welcomes people free of charge.

In counter corruption, this administration always observes the principle of control in related income sections and asks them to avoid from corruption.