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Projects with Afghanistan

A Programme for Culture and Development


Status: Ongoing

Duration: 2006-

Partners: Ministry of Education of Afghanistan, Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan, New AFIR Architects, National Museum of Afghanistan, Dutch Foreign Affairs ICE, Common Sites. 



Our work with Afghanistan began in 2006. The central focus of the programme is to preserve and help reconstruct the cultural heritage of Afghanistan, specifically supporting the National Museum in Kabul and the Bagh-e Jehan Name Palace in Kholm. 



At the end of Kabul's Darul Aman Road, at the outskirts of the city, is Afghanistan's National Museum. In front are the ruins of the former Royal Palace, and behind it are the remains of the Archaeological Institute. The museum was once part of an ambitious plan for a new modern Kabul during the times of Amanullah Khan, a modernist ruler in the style of Ataturk. The idea for a National Museum of Afghanistan emerged in 1919. It formed part of the proces of political, cultural and social developments that characterised this period in the beginning of the 20th century of Afghan history. In 1931 the collections were placed in their present home at the edge of Kabul on the former palace grounds. It was the intention to provide a safe havan for the treasures of Afghan culture, a rich collection that made the museum world famous during the second half of the 20th century. 


The 1970s were a painful period for the National Museum. Following the Soviet invasion in 1979 and the seizure of power by the Taliban, most of the museum  storage has been destroyed. The work in rebuilding the museum, restoration and repatriation of the collection began in 2002 and is continuing today. CIE, with the generous support of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has since 2006 participated in an innovative capacity building programme which was initiated by the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan for their national museums. 


Project Overview:

The rehabilitation programme follows a step-by-step approach which consists of several activities:


1. Upgrading the structure and security of the museum complex and training a security and safety management team. 

2. Conserving the inventoried collection, restoring parts of the collection which were damaged by war, retrieving missing parts of the collection and making them accessible to the public. 

3. Developing temporary exhibitions to show the rich and diverse history of Afghanistan and the important role of culture as a binding factor in society. 

4. Improving museum management and finance control, in order to establish a well- organised and stable organisation. 

5. Increasing income through commercial activities.

6. Increasing public awareness for the museum and its collection. 



The project aims to preserve and help reconstruct the cultural heritage sector of Afghanistan through the re-establishment of the museum sector in Kabul and Kholm, in cooperation with our Afghan stakeholders. 


This Involves:

- Developing the National Museum's collection management and public presentation.

- Restoration and development of the Bagh-e Jehan Nama Palace museum in Kholm.

- Capacity building for the museum sector. 

- Extending awareness for the cultural heritage of Afghanistan. 

- Building infrastructure for the museum sector. 

- Stimulating local economies. 


By supporting this project, the government of the Netherlands helps to:

- Develop models for international cooperation in Afghanistan

- To help rebuilt the cultural sector. 

- To strengthen cultural identity. 

- To improve cultural awareness. 


Capacity Building is a key word for the Bagh-e Jehan Nama Palace project. For all renovation projects, capacity building elements are developed to ensure that young and local craftsmen in the region are stimulated in their craft. A selection of such skilled craftsmen involved include; carpenters, masons, gardeners, brick-makers and lime mixers. 

Sustainability: The whole project is aimed at developing a sustainable future for both museums. Afghan stakeholders are trained by CIE with the intention that this will help them in their role as independant museum staff and curators in the future. The project also strives to improve the museum and heritage industry in Afghanistan, and work towards a higher sense of responsibility amongst local people. 

Heritage Awareness: Local and public ownership is an important part of our work with Afghanistan, as it leads to the raising of local awareness of heritage and the past. It helps to explore the richness and diversity of Afghanistan's long history, and can also foster and inspire postivie socio and economic inititatives. 


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