Today, at the press conference taking place in the National Museum, the Director General of the National Museum, Michal Lukeš, and the Director of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums of the Syrian Arab Republic, Maamoun Abdulkarim, have signed a Declaration of Interest on the commencement of cooperation between the two organizations.This cooperation agreement is part of a wider Programme of Humanitarian and Development Assistance in Syria, approved by the government of the Czech Republic in June 2016.The National Museum, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, has decided that this programme will include assistance with the rescuing of damaged UNESCO monuments and world cultural heritage in Syria.
The government-approved Programme of Humanitarian and Development Assistance in Syria includes several areas, from humanitarian help and supplies of medical materials to the rescue of UNESCO monuments and world cultural heritage, which is being destroyed by the war and also purposefully for ideological reasons. The mutual cooperation between the National Museum and the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums of the Syrian Arab Republic will focus primarily on the protection, conservation and preservation of historical artefacts. During his visit to Syria in the autumn of 2016, the Director General of the National Museum, Michal Lukeš, investigated the current situation regarding Syrian heritage conservation policy, and above all the opportunities for the National Museum to assist with the rescue of archaeological and historical artefacts. “In the first stage, we decided to support the conservation of Syria’s historical monuments by supplying materials for conservation and restoration and by storing archaeological artefacts. Further, we decided to provide help by conserving and restoring historical artefacts in our restoration workshops and also by providing Syrian specialists with further training in the restoration and digitalization of cultural heritage.The antiquities in Syria are part of the world’s cultural heritage, and it is in the interest of the entire civilized world to help with their rescue.Otherwise, humanity will lose a significant portion of its history,” says the Director General of the National Museum, Michal Lukeš.
The signed Declaration covers wider cooperation on joint projects, which include consultation, seminars and conferences focused on archaeology, museology, the conservation and protection of historical monuments, and also exhibitions on these topics. In Prague, for example, a photography exhibition about destroyed monuments in Syria will take place.
During his visit to the National Museum, Prof. Maamoun Abdulkarim gave a lecture about the current situation regarding cultural heritage in Syria. The programme of his stay includes a visit to the newly-reconstructed Historical Building of the National Museum and the National Museum’s repositories in Terezín, where a meeting with restorers, curators and other museum’s specialists will take place.