KABUL－Afghanistan’s national museum is once again welcoming visitors.
A trickle of visitors made their way round the sprawling exhibit rooms in the Kabul museum, marveling at treasures ranging from painted Stone Age pottery to ancient coins and religious items.
“It’s inborn in humans that they attach value to their history,” said Rahmatullah, 65, after intently examining a collection of 2,000-year-old swords. “I wanted to know more about the history of my country. It has a special place in my heart.”
The war-weary Afghans witnessed a political transition as the Taliban took over the capital Kabul on Aug 15 and announced the formation of a caretaker government on Sept 7.
Once a popular museum in the region for preserving rich cultural heritage from different eras and ancient civilizations, the Afghan national museum was badly damaged as many of its collections had been looted during the factional fighting in the 1990s.
Objects representing civilizations from the Koshan empire to the Greek and Buddhist eras have been preserved in the museum.
Ainuddin Sadaqat, the museum’s chief curator, said there has been no restrictions imposed on museum displays so far.
Only 15 to 20 percent of exhibits are of Islamic heritage, said the 35-year-old curator. “We also have visitors from the Taliban,” said Sadaqat, adding that they sometimes come to tour the museum in large numbers.
The museum also boasts a collection of 18th and 19th century jewelry.
“I came here to see the jewelry－what it looked like in the past; the necklaces, earrings,” said Zohal, 24, who works for the Norwegian Refugee Council. “I wanted to see the difference between the jewelry of the past and what we have now.”
Visitor numbers are well below the hundreds that used to visit daily under the previous government－a time when numbers swelled due to busloads of students.
However, the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, another key cultural institution, remains closed.