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Museum’s expert and ‘orientalist’ Alessandro Califano travels Afghanistan for his museum mission.

by Claudia Brose

Alessandro Califano, a devoted and passionate Italian senior curator at Rome’s MACRO museum of contemporary art (Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma), tries to teach Afghans how to set up and maintain museums in their country. Califano ventures into the provinces and gives workshops on why and how the people and the leaders of the various regions might want to be conscious about and believe in their own culture. By directly talking to and teaching the people in the provinces he believes that Afghans can contribute to the understanding and preservation of their own cultural and artistic heritage. Building museums or turning bashed-up historic sites into an open-air museum is his dream for Afghanistan.


by Claudia Brose

Afghan Treasures

The exhibition Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum of Kabul is traveling the world and will be on display at the British Museum in March 2011. Titled Afghanistan – Crossroads of the Ancient World, the British Museum will show 200 treasures from the Kabul museum that survived the years of civil war and Taliban rule together with selected items from its own collection.

Nearly lost during years of conflict, this collection of some of the most remarkable archaeological finds in all of Central Asia were found between 1937 and 1978 and were exhibited in the National Museum in Kabul before it started its tour around the globe.

In 1988 the government and National Museum officials, worried about their historical works of art getting destroyed or looted, made a plan to transfer many of the artifacts to secret hiding places. In 2003 it was revealed that the vault in which the objects were hidden was intact and the artifacts were recovered from their safe and secret spot.

The exhibition offers a look into Afghanistan’s rich cultural heritage with pieces that are not only artistically magnificent but also demonstrate a diverse and thriving ancient culture in Central Asia.

The exhibition is traveling the world and has already been on display at these museums:

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. – May-September 2008

Asian Art Museum San Francisco, California – October 2008-January 2009

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas – February-May 2009

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York – June-September 2009

Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Canada – October 2009-March 2010

Kunst und Ausstellungshalle Bonn, Germany – June 2010-January 2011

British Museum, London, Great Britain – March 2011

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