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British Museum To House Islamic Artifacts From Middle East

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A new wing of the British Museum in London will house artifacts from the war torn Middle East.

The new galleries will be open to the public in 2018. It will provide protection for the historical artifacts, from ISIL, who reportedly raised ancient historically significant sites to the ground, in Iraq and Syria recently. The Malaysian Albukhary Foundation made the donation available to the museum.

British Museum director Neil MacGregor said: “There was clearly a huge hunger in the public in Britain to know more about the cultures of the Islamic world. That started us thinking very hard about the importance about thinking about the Islamic world in this way.”

The Express reports:

The Albukhary Foundation has made the “generous donation” for the wing, which will be dedicated to ceramics, paintings and jewellery from Middle Eastern countries.

It comes in the wake of footage of militants using bulldozers to destroy priceless artwork in the historic cities of Nimrud and Hatra in Iraq earlier this month. It was the latest in a series of attacks and saw archaeologists in the area accuse terrorists of “erasing history”.

Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, the foundation’s chairman, said: “What is happening in the world, demolishing all the Islamic heritage, non-Islamic antiquities, is a bad image.

“The British Museum has been building this collection, without them we would not have any history.”

Staff at the museum, which currently houses its Islamic art a long walk from the main entrance, said it was eager to open the new galleries following previous popularity of art from the Middle East.

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Its 2012 exhibition “Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam” attracted almost 150,000 visitors.

Director Neil MacGregor said: “There was clearly a huge hunger in the public in Britain to know more about the cultures of the Islamic world.

“That started us thinking very hard about the importance about thinking about the Islamic world in this way.”

The museum also announced it would support curators in Iraq with tactics to prevent artefacts being looted or damaged, and help restore those pieces vandalised.

The galleries are due to open in 2018.

Edmondo Burr

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