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The Nahrein Network


Fostering the sustainable development of heritage in post-conflict iraq and its neighbours


Iraq Museum Marketing

By Zainab, on 23 May 2024

We talk to Nawar Ihsan, Antiquities Restorer at The Iraq Museum. Nawar held a Nahrein – BISI Visiting Scholarship at The British Museum with Dr Paul Collins.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Nawar Ihsan. I come from a family interested in heritage and art. My grandfather was a sculptor and had turned his house into a museum. I have been working in the field of Iraqi heritage for more than twelve years. I worked as director of the Iraqi Fashion Museum. I also designed historical and heritage costumes and had artistic works such as paintings from Iraqi heritage. I moved to work in the Iraqi Museum, where I was the artistic director for the museum halls, and then my final stop was the restoration and maintenance of antiquities. My learning was at the hands of Italian experts, and I gained experience through my work practice.

I also have many projects in the field, where I carried out technical maintenance for the most important monuments displayed in the Iraq Museum, such as winged bulls, Assyrian murals, the wall of the Temple of Uruk, Sumerian urns, and many others. Also, on a more comprehensive level, I carried out artistic maintenance. The entire museum collection is in the Basra Cultural Museum, which contains complementary parts, as well as the Maysan Museum, and work is underway on the Mosul Museum collection. I also worked as a project coordinator between the SBAH and heritage organisations such as the Safina Projects. I have held several workshops and training courses to develop the skills of museum workers, some of which were in cooperation with the Italian Embassy at the Italian Center in Baghdad in addition to the Basra Cultural Museum as the opening of the maintenance laboratory, and others in the ancient city of Babylon with the establishment of a workshop near the Lion of Babylon.

Nawar Ihsan at The British Museum

Tell us more about your project.

My project on museums in general and the Iraqi Museum in particular is titled: Iraq Museum Marketing through the Application of Sustainable Development Goals. My research aims to develop the reality of museums in Iraq in proportion to the significance of the civilisation they contain and to activate their social and educational role to achieve sustainability in heritage, learning, and cultural tourism. The research methodology was a comparison between the Iraqi Museum and museums in the United Kingdom to identify strengths and weaknesses. The research was hosted by Dr. Paul Collins, Keeper of the Middle East, in the British Museum. The research involved identifying the methods and policies followed by museums, such as the methods of display, lighting, designs, visitor movement, services provided by the museum, and its educational and social role. During my stay in the UK, I visited more than 26 museums in London and other cities, and also met with a number of department directors at the British Museum. This enabled me to form a broad and comprehensive impression of museum management in the UK.

How was your Visiting Scholarship experience in the UK?

The Nahrein Network and the British Institute for the Study of Iraq provided me with wonderful experiences, allowing me to benefit from the expertise of leading institutions. As the subject of the research revolves around museums, and the United Kingdom contains a large number of diverse museums, the opportunity to host me at the British Museum was an honour for me, as it is the museum that attracts most visitors. It is also a great opportunity to get to know experts and innovators and build knowledge in this field of work. It is certain that getting to know the cities and lifestyles in the United Kingdom had a beautiful impact on civilizational and cultural diversity.

Nawar Ihsan at UCL

What was the highlight of your trip?

I was able to achieve a lot within the short and quick visiting scholarship in London, including my lecture titled “Iraqi Heritage Between Recovery and Preservation” at UCL in collaboration with the Iraqi Embassy, attended by the Cultural Attaché and important figures from the Iraqi community in the UK. My presentation discussed the state of heritage in Iraq, its divisions, causes of loss, and how to protect it, while highlighting the role of the Iraqi Museum in preserving antiquities.

In addition, I had the great opportunity to attend a conference on social attraction in the city of Bristol, as its topic is considered an important part of the research that I am conducting. Another highlight was my trip to Oxford, hosted by Dr. Paul Collins, to see the Ashmolean Museum, which is considered the world’s first university museum and was distinguished by modern display methods and a great collection in the Mesopotamian Civilization section. I also visited Cambridge and experienced the Fitzwilliam Museum.

How will your scholarship help you with your research?

Travelling enables us to acquire and experience new cultures, let alone if it is specifically for conducting research in a country that is known for sustaining its culture and history. Through this scholarship, I was able to conduct field visits to several museums in London and other cities in the UK, which definitely helped me expand my knowledge and skills in a wide area of museum management. Using historical buildings in museums while intertwining modern interior styles was fascinating, and I hope to incorporate these contemporary methods into my research and my work back in Iraq.

Through participant observation at different museums, I learned a lot about the methods of dealing with visitors, and I understood the importance of museum layout and visitor movement within galleries. This is an extremely important matter for increasing visitor engagement and experience.

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