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A day to delve deep into the past

MUSCAT

The celebration of the International Day of Museums, which takes place on May 18 every year, will be held this year at the Bait Al Zubair Museum’s auditorium on the theme ‘Museums and History of Conflicts: A History of What is Not Said in Museums’, accompanied by an exhibition of artefacts discovered.

As part of the celebrations, a workshop was held featuring the presentation of a paper titled ‘Manuscripts and Risks’, which was presented by Mohammed Bin Wail Al Tarashi of the Manuscripts Department.

A paper titled ‘The Sultanate’s Experience in Submerged Antiquities’ was presented by Ayoub Al Busaidi and Ali Al Dhahli from the Underwater Archaeology Programme Team, and Saeed Al Qa’ida presented a working paper on ‘Laws and Conventions Concerned with the Protection of Material Heritage’.

Subsequent workshops will feature papers, the first of which is titled ‘An Overview of the Objectives and Programmes of the Workshop and the Definition of Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property’.

The second paper ‘Cultural Property and Efforts to Preserve it (Archaeological Evidence)’ will address the ‘International Agreements’ and the cooperation with the Royal Oman Police regarding the issuance of exit permits for the archaeological items.

The third working paper is titled ‘Archaeological Sites (Efforts and Challenges)’.

An exhibition of several artefacts found during archaeological excavations from different sites in the Sultanate will also be included in the celebrations.

Located in the old part of the city opposite the Palace of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, the museum was formally established by a Royal decree in 2013.

It aims “to ensure that Oman’s heritage is understood and appreciated within the Sultanate and valued and recognised internationally.”

The purpose of the museum is to increase knowledge and appreciation for the cultural heritage of Oman, provide opportunities for cultural expression, innovation and transfer of traditional skills and knowledge from one generation to the next.

The museum’s 4,000sq-m building, with a stately white facade, includes 4,000sqm of exhibition space dedicated to the permanent collection, which has around 12,500 artefacts from Oman dating back to the prehistoric era.

Around 5,500 objects are on display across 14 permanent galleries with themes such as Maritime History and Arms and Armour.

The Oman and the World gallery, for example, includes gold coins and utensils from a recently excavated 16th-century shipwreck thought to be the Esmeralda, part of Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama’s fleet that sank off Al Hallaniyah island in 1503 en route to India. There is also a gallery for temporary exhibitions.

The museum has agreements with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate in London, the Smithsonian Institution in the United States and the Calouste Gulbenkian foundation.

 Staff Reporter