DUBAI: Established in 1967, Yemen’s Taiz National Museum closed its doors in 2016 amid the ongoing civil war.
The six-year-long conflict in the country has resulted in hundreds of thousands of casualties and the destruction of many historic sites and cities across the nation, including the museum situated in the southern city of Taiz, which was destroyed in a fire caused by shelling from Houthi rebels.
Finally, four years later, the historic institution this week re-opened, following a restoration of its exterior and roof.
The restoration was made possible by a $130,000 grant from the British Council’s Cultural Protection Fund as well as a private US donor, awarded to the World Monuments Fund (WMF) Britain in late 2018 and signals a glimmer of stability and calm to the war-torn country after a Houthi coup in Sanaa led to a devastating war.
The move was an attempt to preserve and protect the institution’s artifacts from damage and looting from rebel fighters after the museum’s housed items, which included items belonging to the last Yemeni Imam, Ahmed Hamid Al-Deen, as well as 1,000-year old manuscripts and a ceremonial turban that belonged to an ancient king all succumbed to flames.
The restoration of the institute was done by Yemen’s General Organization of Antiquities and Museums (GOAM) from April to November.
With restricted air travel to and from Yemen, WMF arranged for the GOAM staff to drive to the French Centre for Archaeology and Social Sciences in Kuwait training, where they dreamed up a restoration plan for the National Museum.
According to The Art Newspaper, WMF also provided the Taiz restoration team a camera for documentation and a computer as well as solar panels and a generator to run it when the local electricity supply failed.
Meanwhile, The Aliph Foundation, a Geneva-based non-profit fund solely dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage in conflict areas, has announced a $589,000 grant that will support the next phase: salvaging the museum’s objects buried underneath it.