Massoudi to receive Honorary Doctorate tonight
KABUL (PAN): Afghanistan National Museum head, Omara Khan Massoudi, will be receiving an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from New York University Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) tonight, ahead of a conference in his honour titled "Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage."
The conference is being presented by ISAW, along with NYU's Center for Ancient Studies, CNRS/NYU, Center for International Research in Social Sciences and Humanities (CIRHUS), the Center for the Study of Human Origins and the Department of Anthropology.
Massoudi has been chosen for the degree for his extraordinary efforts to restore the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul and his outstanding professional dedication and personal bravery by saving some of the world’s finest cultural treasures.
Born in 1948, Massoudi studied history and geography at Kabul University. After he obtained his degree, he was a teacher in the first four years of his career.
Subsequently, he did four months of research for the Ministry of Information and Culture, and then he was employed at the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul, which was know by the name Kabul Museum at that time.
When the Russian troops started to leave the country in May 1988, it appeared to be clear that the artifacts of the museum were at risk. In co-operation with President Mohammad Najibullah the artifacts were transferred to safe locations, where they stayed in the years to come.
From 1992 to 1994 the museum suffered heavily under the fierce shellings, particularly of the rocket strike of May 12, 1993, when the Kabul Museum was bombed and looted, he inspired other members of staff to assist him in on-going evasive action to safeguard whatever was possible and to assess and record the damage
Massoudi was honoured with a 2004 Prince Claus Award for his courage and for his continuing commitment to defending and promoting culture in the most extreme of circumstances.
The Prince Claus Fund organised a lecture by Omara Khan Massoudi in De Nieuwe Kerk when the exhibition Hidden Afghanistan was on show in 2007.
In 2001, Massoudi was appointed to director of the museum, and in 2003 he was able to inform President Hamid Karzai of the safeguarded artifacts. In spite of his actions, still around 70% of all artifacts got lost because of destruction or plundering of the rebels.
Under Massoudi's direction, his museum revives with a growing number of visitors: 16,000 in 2010 and 23,000 in 2011.
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