Active Project

Mosul Cultural Museum

Mosul, Iraq

About the Site

The Mosul Cultural Museum was first inaugurated in 1952, but its main building, an important example of Iraqi modernist architecture designed by the acclaimed Iraqi architect Mohammad Makiya, opened to the public in 1974. The Mosul Cultural Museum remains the second largest museum in Iraq after the National Museum in Baghdad.

Financed by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the museum's three main halls covered around 8,500 sq. ft. (2600 m²) and spanned over two and a half levels, including a semi-basement floor, a main exhibition floor, and a mezzanine level. Today, the museum is one of the city's few modernist structures still in existence.

In 2003, the museum was closed in order to avoid looting during the second Gulf War. A significant part of the collection (comprising around 1,500 pieces) was moved to the National Museum in Baghdad; the Mosul Cultural Museum only retained monumental pieces as well as some important objects. Nearly a decade later, in 2012, the museum underwent a thorough renovation project intended to renew its mezzanines, interior configurations, and primary entrance façade.

Destruction of the Mosul Cultural Museum

In June 2014, just as the Mosul Cultural Museum prepared to re-open after years of renovation, the self-proclaimed Islamic State captured the city; in February 2015, the group published video tapes of the museum's destruction.

Although it was regained by the army in March 2017, the site today remains significantly damaged and closed to the public.

The Mosul Cultural Museum Rehabilitation Project

In 2020, World Monuments Fund (WMF) joined the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage (SBAH), the Musée du Louvre, the Smithsonian Institution, and the International alliance for the protection of heritage in conflict areas (ALIPH) to define the restoration and rehabilitation program for the museum so it can be returned to the citizens of Mosul as quickly as possible.

This entails preparing a heritage assessment and condition survey of the site; the development of a rehabilitation design adapted to the building’s structural conditions, historical and architectural significance, broader urban context, and future needs in terms of its reuse; the implementation and delivery of this design; the development of a conservation and management plan for the museum; and capacity building training for the local team to manage the museum. An expert mission WMF conducted will pave the way for a new stage of this collective effort: the reconstruction and development of the future museum, which is expected to reopen to the public within a few years.

Last updated: February 2021. 

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