Saving Iraqi Cultural Heritage

Jessica S. Johnson, MCI Head of Conservation, and Katharyn Hanson, MCI Fellow, along with Acting Provost Richard Kurin and Cori Wegener, Cultural Heritage Preservation Officer, and other colleagues just returned from a successful visit to the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage (IICAH) in Erbil, Iraq. As part of the visit an agreement was made with the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage for the Smithsonian to support on-the-ground work by Iraqi archaeologists to document and stabilize the recently liberated ancient site of Nimrud. The Smithsonian has been participating in projects in Erbil throughout the past year including managing a 22-week “Fundamentals in Heritage Conservation” training program for cultural heritage professionals from across Iraq and convening a “Protecting the Cultural Heritage of Religious Minorities” workshop for representatives of persecuted groups in northern Iraq. The Smithsonian also created a training manual “Guide to Mosul Heritage” for Kurdish and Iraqi security forces on protecting cultural and religious heritage sites in and around Mosul in preparation for the liberation of the city.  The Museum Conservation Institute along with our other SI and cultural heritage partners will continue to work on-the-ground with our Iraq colleagues to help with the stabilization, rescue and recovery of cultural heritage in Iraq.

To hear more about Smithsonian’s work with the Iraqi Institute for the Conservation of Antiquities and Heritage in Erbil listen to the Sidedoor podcast “Saving Cultural Heritage” at

To learn more about the history of the Iraqi Institute through our partner the University of Delaware see:

To make donations to the Smithsonian Fund for the Iraqi Institute to support this work contact Jessica S. Johnson, Head of Conservation, Museum Conservation Institute, 301 238 1218 or