Tajik museum collections under threat

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The Institute for War and Peace Reporting has claimed that cultural property in Tajikistan is "vulnerable to thieves, damp and bookworms". The IWPR reports Tajik museum staff as saying that they lack the money or resources to run museums efficiently, and that damp basement storage areas and a lack of conservation facilities have caused collections to decay rapidly.

After gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1992, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war which lasted for five years, until 1997. Since then, uneven economic growth and a famine in 2001 have meant that the preservation of cultural heritage has been low on the government's agenda.

Tajikistan has received much assistance from UNESCO, however, and an organisation called Restaurateurs sans FrontiÚres, which sends conservation and scientific assistance to developing countries, has carried out several projects with museums in Tajikistan.

In October 2006, UNESCO arranged for conservators from the Kunstkamera (Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography) in St Petersburg to visit Tajikistan, in order to help museum staff there set up specialised conservation laboratories. During the Soviet period, museums in Tajikistan had modern and well-equipped conservation laboratories, but these have since fallen into disuse.

The United Nations Co-ordination Unit in Tajikistan also held a conference in January 2007, to discuss how to protect cultural property in Central Asia from looting, theft or armed conflict.

Tajik museum collections under threat -- Institute for War and Peace Reporting

UNESCO safeguards endangered museum collections in Central Asia -- UNESCO website

United Nations Co-ordination Unit in Tajikistan -- organisation website

Restaurateurs sans FrontiÚres -- organisation website